SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 127 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the definition of "Parole board" the following definitions: -
"Qualified mental health professional," treatment providers who are psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric social workers, psychiatric nurses, and others who by virtue of their education, credentials and experience are permitted by law to evaluate and care for the mental health needs of patients.
"Residential treatment unit," a general population housing unit within a correctional institution of the commonwealth that is operated for the purpose of providing treatment and rehabilitation for inmates with mental illness.
“Secure Treatment Unit,” a maximum security residential treatment program designed to provide an alternative to segregation for inmates diagnosed with serious mental illness in accordance with clinical standards adopted by the department.
SECTION 2. Said chapter 127, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by inserting after section 17 the following section:
Section 17A. (a) The commissioner shall establish in correctional facilities of the commonwealth such programs including, but not limited to, residential treatment units, as are necessary for the treatment of mentally ill inmates confined therein who are in need of mental health services but who do not require hospitalization for the treatment of mental illness, as determined by a qualified mental health professional. Such inmates shall be offered therapy and programming in settings that are appropriate to their clinical needs while maintaining the safety and security of the facility.
(b) All correctional staff who work in secure treatment units and residential treatment units shall receive mental health training. Such training may include information about the types and symptoms of mental illnesses, the goals of mental health treatment, medication and side effects, co-occurring disorders, de-escalation techniques and training in how to effectively and safely manage inmates with mental illness.
SECTION 3. Section 39 of said chapter 127, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the first paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
Except as provided in section 39A, at the request of the superintendent of any correctional institution of the commonwealth, the commissioner may authorize the transfer, for such period as the commissioner may determine, to a segregated unit within any correctional institution of the commonwealth, of any inmate whose continued retention in the general institution population is detrimental to the program of the institution.
SECTION 4. Said chapter 127, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after section 39 the following section:
Section 39A. (a) Prior to placement in a segregated unit within a correctional institution of the commonwealth, all inmates shall be screened by a qualified mental health professional to determine whether the inmate has a serious mental illness in accordance with clinical standards adopted by the department, and whether there are any acute mental health contraindications to placement in a segregated unit. A qualified mental health professional shall make rounds in each such segregated unit and may conduct an out-of-cell meeting with any inmate for whom a confidential meeting is warranted in the clinician’s professional judgment. Inmates in such segregated units shall be evaluated by a qualified mental health professional in accordance with clinical standards adopted by the department.
(b) Except in exigent circumstances that would create an unacceptable risk to the safety of any person, or where no secure treatment unit bed is available, segregated inmates diagnosed with serious mental illness in accordance with clinical standards adopted by the department shall not be housed in a segregated unit for more than 30 days, and shall be placed in a secure treatment unit. Such segregated inmates awaiting transfer to a secure treatment unit shall be offered additional mental health services in accordance with clinical standards adopted by the department.
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