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Posted on: April 27, 2011

New Law Protects Public From Mentally Ill Criminals

Passage caps successful legislative agenda for County Attorney’s Office

PHOENIX, AZ (April 27, 2011) - Criminal defendants with mental illness in Arizona will no longer be able to slip unnoticed back into the community thanks to a recently passed bill that has been signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer. HB 2408, which passed unanimously in the state legislature, requires that prosecuting agencies be notified before a defendant is released from court ordered mental health treatment. Prior to the law, mentally ill criminals were able to disappear after treatment before the appropriate law enforcement agency had a chance to arrest them to keep them off the streets.

“This law addresses a frightening situation where someone who had been committed for mental health treatment following charges for murder or other serious offenses was released without any notice to law enforcement,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “With the notice this law now requires, law enforcement is in a much better position to review a case to determine whether or not re-arrest and prosecution is necessary to safeguard the community,” he added.

HB 2408 was sponsored by State Representative Ted Vogt (R – LD30) and is one of seven criminal justice bills proposed in partnership with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, all of which were approved in the current legislative session, nearly all of them unanimously:

HB 2167 – adds “Spice” and other synthetic drug products to the list of dangerous drugs prohibited under Arizona law.

HB 2405 – toughens penalties for organizers of major human smuggling rings.

HB 2438 – extends felony classification for sexual conduct with a minor to apply to those who were, but are no longer, the minor’s parent, guardian, teacher or clergyman.

HB 2404 – allows crime victims to obtain restitution orders against convicted felons who abscond from their sentence, instead of having to wait until the felon completes his or her sentence.

HB 2411 – increases penalties against pimps and “johns” who engage in the crime of child prostitution.

SB 1367 – establishes the same procedures for the collection and maintenance of juvenile DNA samples as those which currently apply to adult DNA collection.

“I’d like to thank the legislature for their support of these measures which provide my office with additional tools to enhance public safety,” Montgomery said.

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