New Jersey bill would expand mental health program
By Megan Busse
TRENTON,New Jersey: Republican State Senator Gerald Cardinale and Democratic State Senator Nicholas Scutari introduced a bipartisan bill that would expand a mental health treatment program statewide. The program is currently operating in six counties and allows a judge to order a psychiatric evaluation if the patient does not comply with recommended treatment.
The Department of Human Services has already set aside $2.4 million dollars to expand the program.
The bill is intended to prevent tragedies resulting from untreated mental illness and the original program is a result of a 2002 homicide of a seventh grader. However, the program has not had the success DHS has hoped for. The six county program has cost $2 million dollars and had only enrolled 79 people in the first six months. Proponents of the program say the program needs to include all of New Jersey, not just six counties, to accurately assess success.