Legislature(2019 - 2020)

2020-02-28 Senate Journal

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2020-02-28                     Senate Journal                      Page 1888
SB 238                                                                                                                        
SENATE BILL NO. 238 BY THE SENATE RULES COMMITTEE                                                                               
BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR, entitled:                                                                                           
          "An Act relating to involuntary commitment                                                                            
          procedures; relating to protective custody at a                                                                       
          correctional facility or jail; relating to transportation                                                             
          of individuals held for involuntary admission for                                                                     
          mental health treatment; and providing for an                                                                         
          effective date."                                                                                                      
was read the first time and referred to the Health and Social Services                                                          
and Judiciary Committees.                                                                                                       
The following fiscal information was published today:                                                                           
 Fiscal Note No. 1, zero, Department of Corrections                                                                             
 Fiscal Note No. 2, zero, Department of Health and Social Services                                                              
Governor's transmittal letter dated February 27:                                                                                
Dear President Giessel:                                                                                                         
Under the authority of Article III, Section 18, of the Alaska                                                                   
Constitution, I am transmitting a bill relating to involuntary mental                                                           
health commitment procedures.                                                                                                   
This bill would take four significant steps towards our common goal                                                             
of improving mental health treatment in the State.                                                                              
First, this bill would clarify what happens when a person is held in                                                            
protective custody at a correctional facility or jail. Protective custody                                                       
is only authorized after a person is involuntarily committed to a                                                               
facility for a mental health evaluation and while the person is waiting                                                         
for transportation, when a designated treatment facility, an evaluation                                                         
facility, a crisis stabilization center, or a health care facility, lack the                                                    
capacity to safely admit the person within a reasonable amount of                                                               
time. This temporary hold would not constitute an arrest, nor would                                                             
the correctional facility make any record to indicate that there was an                                                         

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arrest, ensuring protection of the person’s rights while protecting                                                             
public safety. The correctional facility would use its available                                                                
resources to protect the person's health and safety, including providing                                                        
physical and mental health treatment, either in person or using                                                                 
Second, this bill provides a clear process to ensure that a person is                                                           
only held in protective custody for a very limited time. Under this                                                             
mechanism, the Department is notified as soon as practicable when a                                                             
person enters protective custody and provides re-evaluation of the                                                              
person every 48 hours, after which it provides a written update to the                                                          
court. Additionally, the court must conduct a review hearing within 96                                                          
hours of placement in protective custody to ensure there is still                                                               
probable cause to hold the person.                                                                                              
Third, this bill would clarify the times during which the Department of                                                         
Health and Social Services has custody of the person who is subject to                                                          
an ex parte order. Specifically, the bill would clarify that the                                                                
Department only has custody when a patient is admitted to the Alaska                                                            
Psychiatric Institute (API) or while the person is in the transportation                                                        
arranged by the Department of Health and Social Services to a                                                                   
designated evaluation or treatment facility. The bill would further                                                             
clarify that the Department does not have custody after the person's                                                            
discharge from API, upon the person's admission to a non-state-owned                                                            
designated evaluation or treatment facility, or when the person is in                                                           
protective custody.                                                                                                             
Finally, this bill would allow a mental health evaluation facility to                                                           
observe a person who is being held involuntarily for an entire 72-hour                                                          
period before a person's court hearing. Currently, the hearing happens                                                          
within the 72-hour period, so the court does not have the benefit of a                                                          
full evaluation period. This amendment would allow the facility and                                                             
the court to make a fully-informed decision as to whether the person                                                            
should be held for an additional 30-day period. The bill would do this                                                          
by extending the time within which a court must hold a 30-day hearing                                                           
from 72 hours to 96 hours, and allowing a facility to hold the person in                                                        
between the completion of the 72-hour evaluation and the hearing                                                                

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I urge your prompt and favorable action on this measure.                                                                        
Mike Dunleavy