AB 2142 (Haney)Therapy in Correctional Facilities – Cosponsored

March 28, 2024

The Honorable Kevin McCarty
Chair, Assembly Committee on Public Safety
California State Assembly
1020 N Street, Room 111
Sacramento, CA 95814

Subject: Cosponsor Support for AB 2142 (Haney)

Dear Assemblymember McCarty,

Mental Health America of California (MHAC) is pleased to cosponsor AB 2142 (Haney), legislation which would create a pilot program at select prisons to ensure that behavioral health therapy is accessible to incarcerated people who do not have a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) severe mental health disorder classification. As a result, this bill would increase access to behavioral health services to individuals not currently eligible to receive them.  

MHAC is a peer-run organization leading the state in behavioral health public policy and advocacy since 1957. The mission of MHAC is to assist and encourage communities, families and individuals to experience hope, wellness and recovery from mental health and substance use disorder issues through voluntary services that are delivered in their local community with compassion and respect for everyone’s dignity and autonomy. Everyone, even individuals who are justice involved, have a right to recovery and should not be denied behavioral health services that could prevent self-harm, improve wellness and reduce recidivism.

According to a 2022 CDCR report, 45.5% of recorded prison suicides were among the Hispanic population, while 27.9% were among African Americans.[1]  These significant disparities underscore the lack of support reaching our most underserved communities. Furthermore, 67,000 incarcerated Californians have no access to any mental health care at all, rendering them unable to process trauma, work on addiction, and address other behavioral health issues. AB 2142 offers a mechanism to broaden preventive services to these individuals, without being classified as having a serious mental health condition, thereby reducing the likelihood of crises. This preventative measure can help identify and support underserved communities and ensure delivery of culturally responsive support and services. The access to preventive services is essential for addressing the trauma individuals experience before and during incarceration.

For these reasons, we support AB 2142 and ask for your “Aye” vote. If you have any questions, or if MHAC can provide any assistance on this bill or any other behavioral health legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me or our Interim Public Policy Director, Karen Vicari, at kvicari@mhaofca.org.

In Community,

Heidi L. Strunk
President & CEO

[1] 2022 annual report on suicides and suicide prevention … (n.d.). https://cchcs.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/60/2022-Annual-Report.pdf