Rep. Cushing: Mental Illness Is a Disease, Not a Crime

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Dear members of the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee,

With all due respect to each and every member of the committee, it was with great dismay that I read the Committee voted 14-3 to recommend to the House that House Bill 602, prohibiting placement of certain persons with mental illness in the secure psychiatric unit, be voted Inexpedient to Legislate.

Nancy West Photo

Wire fence near the entrance to the Secure Psychiatric Unit at the New Hampshire State Prison for Men.

Respectfully, I do not understand understand opposition to HB 602 and why some people on the committee and in legislature support the continued criminalization of persons with severe mental illnesses.

I do not understand rejecting the goal of treating persons with severe mental illness in a secure therapeutic hospital setting instead of inside the walls of the state prison in the prison psychiatric unit.
I have to say I was upset the committee report stated “the sponsor agrees with (the committee) decision” to kill HB 602. I most certainly do not and never have agreed with killing HB 602. I feel a responsibility to the inmates and their families to do what I can to end the shame of the state of New Hampshire sending to prison people who have never been charged with or committed a crime but who are so severely mentally ill that they are a threat to themselves or others.
Mental illness is a disease, not a crime.
Renny Cushing


Representative Robert Renny Cushing

Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
New Hampshire House of Representatives
State House
Concord, New Hampshire 03301

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