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Peters looks to provide the mentally ill with incarceration alternatives

Senator PetersSPRINGFIELD – If a person charged with a misdemeanor is determined by a court to be mentally unfit to stand trial, a bill sponsored by State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago) would allow them to be transferred into diversionary programs instead of entering the criminal justice system.

“People who have mental health issues need to be helped, not neglected,” Peters said. “If we’re able to offer these folks a program that can serve as an alternative to incarceration, we can take a big first step towards ending the criminalization of mental illness.”

These programs, known as “misdemeanant diversion programs,” work to identify individuals with mental illnesses, provide them with stabilizing treatment, and direct them toward community provided mental health services and away from incarceration.

Senate Bill 1188 requires the defendant to be assessed and their eligibility for the programs to be screened and still leaves the final say up to the court. The defendant’s charges may be dismissed with or without prejudice, again left to the discretion of the court, if approved for a diversionary program.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 56-0 and will be sent to the House of Representatives.

Sen. Robert Peters

Sen. Robert Peters

13th District

Years served: 2019–Present

Committee assignments: Criminal Law; Financial Institutions; Human Services; Local Government (Vice-Chairperson); Telecommunications & InfoTechnology; Veterans Affairs.

Associated Representatives:
Kambium Buckner
Curtis J. Tarver II