Assemblymember Levine’s Bill to Require Judges to Recommend a Convicted Felon Receive a Mental Health Evaluation Passes the Senate

Friday, September 1, 2017

State Auditor Report released this month on CDCR’s failure to address mental health issues in prison highlight importance of the legislation

(Sacramento) - AB 154, authored by Assemblymember Levine (D-Marin County), advanced with unanimous support out of the Senate and is currently awaiting a concurrence vote in the Assembly. The bill requires judges during sentencing to make a recommendation to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) for a convicted felon to receive a mental health evaluation if mental health played a role in the underlying offense.

“Californian’s prisons have become de-facto mental health facilities.” Assemblymember Levine said. “This bill will require judges to look at an individual’s mental health during the sentencing process.  The defendant’s mental health should be considered when determining sentencing. My legislation ensures CDCR is adequately screening inmates for mental health issues.”

Addressing mental health issues in our prison system is particularly important at this moment. A recent audit by the California State Auditor found the average suicide rate in California prisons was substantially higher than the average around the U.S. and the rate of female inmates who committed suicide while in prison has soared in recent years.  Specifically, the auditor found prisons failed to complete or completed inadequate mental health risk evaluations for many of those inmates who required them.

Assemblymember Marc Levine represents the 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and Sonoma Counties.