DA Ryan in the Community
District Attorney Ryan speaks at Joint Committee on Mental Health hearing
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan testified at a hearing before the Joint Committee on Mental Health on two pieces of legislation supported by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office which allow for improved communications to law enforcement and victims about the housing status of criminal defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial.
District Attorney Ryan spoke about the proposed legislation would close gaps in the law by requiring mental health officials to notify district attorneys when a defendant is release or moved. The gap in the law was exposed as a result of a Middlesex County case where a defendant, transferred to a group home without notification to the District Attorney, left that group home facility and assaulted a pregnant woman in her home.
“I am fully supportive of the integration of mentally disabled persons into the community,” District Attorney Ryan said. “These laws will provide appropriate public safety oversight and safety planning for victims, the defendant and the community.”
The bills are supported by the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC)
“DPPC endorses and supports a fair and workable balance between the rights of persons with disabilities to live responsibly in the community and the rights of those living in the community to be safe from harm and crime,” said Executive Director Nancy A. Alterio. “In my opinion, both bills attempt to successfully improve communication and cooperation and bridge longstanding gaps in the system.
The bills the District Attorney spoke in favor of are: SB 918, An Act relative to the discharge of persons incompetent to stand trial, sponsored by Sen. John Keenan; and SB 905, An Act requiring victims to be notified of certain hearings concerning the custodial status of individuals adjudged not guilty of a crime by reason of mental illness or after being found not competent to stand trial, sponsored by Sen. Cynthia S. Creem.
Following the case in Middlesex County, District Attorney Ryan, then the office’s General Counsel, worked with Sen. Keenan to file the bill. Sen. Keenan also spoke in support of the legislation at the hearing.