Report Title:

Forensic Treatment Facilities Feasibility Study



Requires the department of public safety to conduct a study of the feasibility of providing greater medical care for mentally ill prisoners and making changes to disciplinary practices when dealing with mentally ill prisoners.  Makes an appropriation.  Effective 7/1/2025.  (SB2524 HD1)



S.B. NO.



S.D. 2


H.D. 1













     SECTION 1.  When the federal Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2003 was enacted, the United States Senate noted that, of the 16 per cent of adults and over 20 per cent of juveniles incarcerated in the United States who are mentally ill, the majority have illnesses or disorders that are responsive to treatment.  Also in 2003, Human Rights Watch, the international human rights group based in New York, published a report called, Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness.  The study found that one in six prisoners in the United States, or roughly 16 per cent, is mentally ill, suffering from illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.  The report further states that prisons are dangerous and damaging places for mentally ill individuals, where they are more likely to be under-treated or not treated at all, picked on, physically or sexually abused, manipulated by other inmates, disciplined at higher-than-average rates, and housed in especially harsh conditions, such as isolation, which can exacerbate their conditions into acute psychosis. 

     In 2007, the legislature passed Act 144, Session Laws of Hawaii 2007, and the Senate adopted Senate Resolution No. 37 (S.R. No. 37), finding that up to 40 per cent of those committed to the State's correctional facilities are mentally ill and that the United States Department of Justice has threatened litigation against the Oahu community correctional center over practices alleged to be harmful to mentally ill and suicidal prisoners and to have caused the worsening of prisoners' conditions.

     SECTION 2.  (a)  The department of public safety shall conduct a study to determine the feasibility of:

     (1)  Recruiting, hiring, and training appropriate medical staff to ensure that the committed persons receive proper and adequate treatment for their psychiatric conditions;

     (2)  Terminating the practice of housing committed persons with mental illness with the general population; and

     (3)  Terminating the practice of placing committed persons with mental illness in solitary confinement, or restricting use of the practice to short periods and only when the committed person is imminently dangerous to self or others.

     (b)  The department of public safety shall convene an advisory committee to assist in conducting the feasibility study that shall consist, at a minimum, of:

     (1)  The director of health, or the director's designee;

     (2)  A mental health professional with training and experience in treating committed persons with mental illness, who is not an employee of the department of public safety; and

     (3)  A representative from an organization that advocates on behalf of committed persons.

     (c)  The members of the advisory committee shall serve without compensation but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses, including travel expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

     (d)  The department of public safety shall submit a report to the legislature regarding the findings and recommendations of the feasibility study, together with any proposed legislation, no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2009.

     SECTION 3.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $5,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2008-2009 for performance of the feasibility study required by this Act.

     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of public safety for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2025.