Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has signed a bill to immediately fund reforms aimed at addressing the gaps in the state’s criminal justice system and mental healthcare system for individuals battling mental illness who enter the criminal justice system.
The reforms were initiated in response to a multi-year investigation by investigative reporter AJ Lego into the failure to treat and protect individuals with mental illness.
Last year, a capital funding issue delayed the reforms, but the governor has now approved spending a quarter of a million dollars to launch the program and ensure there are no gaps in the system.
The reforms aim to address the gap that has caused criminal defendants found mentally incompetent to stand trial to be released, without any oversight, and go on to commit violent crimes.
The next step is for the governor to appoint members to a state competency attainment board, tasked with creating a statewide system to help mentally ill criminal suspects regain competency to stand trial while better supervising them when they are in the community.