Delegate Mark Keam's Corrections Bill Passes the House
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Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Contact: Julia Kim
RICHMOND, VAsize = 2> — The Virginia House of Delegates today approved, by a unanimous vote of 98-0, Delegate Mark Keam's House Bill 2148, which would ease the transition process for certain prisoners' reentry to society.
Keam's bill would allow the Virginia Department of Corrections to share with the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, Department of Social Services and local Departments of Social Services medical and mental health records of offenders who have completed their time and are about to be released, for the purposes of planning and supervising post-incarceration housing and treatment.
Of the nearly 8,000 offenders who are released from state prisons each year, a small number have extreme medical or mental health circumstances that require special placements. Most of these offenders have family or community nursing homes or assisted living facilities that are willing to accept them to continue their geriatric, chronic, severe medical or mental health service needs. However, for those unwilling or unable to find a home, local social service agencies will be forced to accept responsibility once the offender is release to the community.
House Bill 2148 addresses this problem by allowing the Department of Corrections to exchange vital information with relevant state and local agencies so that they can have ample time to arrange for the care of these indigent or homeless individuals released from prison.
The proposal was developed by Keam and Governor Bob McDonnell's Prisoner and Juvenile Re-Entry Council, which was established to improve the correctional system in Virginia. Delegate Keam has served as a leader on this council since its formation.
"This bill will help our state and local agencies plan for successful reentry," said Keam. "Having access to stable housing and support services can reduce recidivism, particularly in cases involving those with serious mental health issues who would otherwise be homeless."
Keam's bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
The details of this and all of his bills are at http://lis.virginia.gov.
Delegate Mark Keam (www.DelegateKeam.org, @MarkKeam) represents Virginia's 35th District, located in Fairfax County. The House District includes Tysons, the Town of Vienna, Dunn Loring and portions of McLean, Oakton and Fairfax. Currently serving in his second term, Delegate Keam is a member of the House Education, Finance and Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources committees and the Joint Subcommittee to Evaluate Tax Preferences.