The act establishes the office of the statewide behavioral health court liaison (office) as an independent agency within the judicial department to administer the statewide behavioral health court liaison program, which is known as the bridges program (program). The head of the office is the director. The office provides program services.
The act establishes the bridges program commission (commission) to support the office. The commission appoints the director of the office, provides guidance to the office, provides fiscal oversight of the office's general operating budget, participates in program services funding decisions, and assists with the office's duties concerning program training and public outreach.
The act clarifies the scope, requirements, and duties of the program, including requiring the program to inform county attorneys of available behavioral health services and connect participants to, and support engagement with, relevant services. The act clarifies the duties of the program's court liaisons, including:
- Addressing system gaps and barriers and promoting positive outcomes for program participants;
- Keeping judges, district attorneys, county attorneys, and defense attorneys informed about available community-based behavioral health services; and
- Providing consultation and training to criminal and juvenile justice personnel regarding behavioral health and community treatment options and program best practices.
The office is required to annually report to the joint budget committee about the office's work and administration of the program.
The act appropriates $5,181,020 from the general fund to the judicial department for use by the office and $100,453 from the general fund to the judicial department for legal services, which is reappropriated to the department of law to provide legal services to the judicial department. The act reduces the appropriation in the 2023 long bill to the judicial department for the program by $2,802,491.
APPROVED by Governor April 27, 2023
EFFECTIVE April 27, 2023
NOTE: Certain sections of the act are contingent on whether or not Senate Bill 23-228 becomes law. Senate Bill 23-228 was signed by the governor April 20, 2023.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)