Madison – Sen. Jesse James (R – Altoona) was recently announced as the chair of a 2024 Legislative Study Committee on the Emergency Detention and Civil Commitment of Minors. This new study committee will focus on examining the effectiveness of emergency detention and civil commitment laws, as well as making recommendations for legislation to create child-appropriate civil commitment procedures.

Youth across Wisconsin communities are increasingly experiencing traumatic crises and mental health burdens, with law enforcement officers continuously responding to assist with mental health calls.  “These crisis calls automatically trigger hours’ worth of work for the officers who have to transport them and find a placement in a secured psychiatric bed,” said Sen. James, who in addition to being a legislator serves as a part-time police officer.

“Many of these kids are being sent out-of-state to receive the care they need because of our lack of juvenile beds. We need to do more to keep them close to their home, family, and community, because we know that this connectedness aids in the recovery and treatment process,” he continued. “Our hope is that this committee can be a way for us to come up with solutions to preserve our families and represent the needs of these children, who are often suffering without a voice.”

Representative Pat Snyder (R-Schofield), who leads the Assembly Committee on Children and Families, added: “I have always directed my Committee to put politics aside and promote the best interests of the child. This Study Committee is an important way to work together with experts and find the best possible way of protecting children. When children in crises undergo needed treatment, it is essential to keep them close to support systems of family and community. I look forward to getting to work on this important issue.”  

Sen. James emphasized that a top priority will be discussing the possibility of creating more psychiatric residential treatment facilities in Wisconsin. “We need intensive care closer to home. We are pushing for a better future for our mental health systems in Wisconsin,” he concluded.

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