Public Comment / HB 129: Prohibited Items in Correctional Facilities

Updated: 1 year ago
Public Policy

January 26, 2023
Nate Crippes / Public Affairs Supervising Attorney
Andrew Riggle / Public Policy Advocate
(801) 363-1347 / (800) 662-9080

Good afternoon committee members. My name’s Andrew Riggle. I’m the Disability Law Center’s public policy advocate.

Involuntarily hospitalized patients have a suicide risk 100 times greater than the general population 3 months after discharge and 30 times greater than the general population many years later. Communication is vital to our psychological connectedness and well-being. Unless there’s a justifiable safety concern or clinical reason, a mental health client or patient shouldn’t be deprived of their phone, particularly since they’re already vulnerable. Doing so could have a negative impact on their chance of successful treatment or survival.

Why allow a mental health facility to adopt a rule implementing a total ban on communication devices in secure areas, rather than basing it on an individualized clinical or safety assessment? Also, how will the definition of “secure area” as “any area into which certain persons are restricted from transporting any firearm, ammunition, dangerous weapon, or explosive” be applied in a mental health facility?

The DLC doesn’t understand including mental health in a corrections bill. Why are we continuing to criminalize it?

Thank you for your time and consideration of our questions and perspective.