Bill would provide mental health aid to inmates exiting jail
A new bill in Congress aims to ensure that those incarcerated do not suffer similar mental health challenges as Bronx teenager Kalief Browder, who was never convicted of a crime and ultimately killed himself after his release from three years at Rikers Island.
Browder was 16 years old when he was accused of stealing a backpack. Despite his right to a speedy trial, he wound up in Rikers for three years, spending much of that time locked in solitary confinement.
On Monday, lawmakers announced legislation that would give mental health support to inmates leaving the incarceration system. The bill, dubbed the Kalief Browder Re-entry Success Act, would create a pilot program to figure out the mental health of prisoners before they're released and offer treatment to those who may need it.
The move comes the week after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to close Rikers Island over the next 10 years.
Browder family attorney Paul Prestia says he is thankful that lawmakers are realizing that the criminal justice system needs an overhaul.
Prestia says the bill still requires the necessary votes from Congress before it's sent to President Donald Trump.