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Senate Bill No. 597

PUBLIC ACT NO. 96-121

AN ACT CONCERNING MEMBERSHIP ON THE PSYCHIATRIC SECURITY REVIEW BOARD AND COMMUNICATIONS BY PATIENTS WITH PSYCHIATRIC DISABILITIES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 17a-581 of the general statutes, as amended by section 11 of public act 95-257, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) There is hereby established a Psychiatric Security Review Board which shall be an autonomous body within the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services for administrative purposes only. The board shall consist of [five] SIX members who shall serve for a term of four years and shall be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of either house of the General Assembly, except that of the members first appointed to the board: (1) One shall serve for a term ending June 30, 1987; (2) two shall serve for terms ending June 30, 1988; [and] (3) two shall serve for terms ending June 30, 1989; AND (4) ONE APPOINTED PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION (6) OF SUBSECTION (b) OF THIS SECTION SHALL SERVE FOR A TERM ENDING JUNE 30, 1999.

(b) The membership shall be composed of: (1) A psychiatrist experienced with the criminal justice system and not otherwise employed on a permanent basis by the state; (2) a psychologist experienced with the criminal justice system and not otherwise employed on a permanent basis by the state; (3) a person with substantial experience in the process of probation; (4) a member of the general public; [and] (5) an attorney who is a member of the bar of this state AND (6) A MEMBER OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC WITH SUBSTANTIAL EXPERIENCE IN VICTIM ADVOCACY.

(c) No employee of the Division of Criminal Justice or the Public Defender Services Commission shall be a member of the board.

(d) The Governor at any time may remove any member for inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.

(e) A member of the board not otherwise employed full-time by the state, shall be paid seventy-five dollars for each day during which the member is engaged in the performance of official duties. In addition, subject to sections 4-15 and 5-141c regulating travel and other expenses of state officers and employees, the member shall be reimbursed for actual and necessary travel and other expenses incurred in the performance of official duties.

(f) Subject to any applicable provision of sections 5-193 to 5-269, inclusive, AS AMENDED the board may hire employees to assist in the performance of its duties under sections 17a-580 to 17a-602, inclusive AS AMENDED.

(g) A majority of the members of the board constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business. Hearings shall be held before members of the board.

(h) The board shall meet at least twice every month, unless the chairman determines that there is not sufficient business before the board to warrant a meeting at the scheduled time. The board shall also meet at other times and places specified by the call of the chairman or of a majority of the members of the board.

(i) No member of the board shall be personally liable for damage or injury caused in the discharge of his duties. Any person having a complaint for such damage or injury shall present it as a claim against the state under the provisions of chapter 53.

(j) The board may adopt in accordance with chapter 54 such regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of sections 17a-580 to 17a-602, inclusive AS AMENDED.

Sec. 2. Section 17a-546 of the general statutes, as amended by section 48 of public act 95-257, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Every patient shall be permitted to communicate by sealed mail with any individual, group or agency, except as herein provided.

(b) Every hospital for treatment of persons with psychiatric disabilities shall furnish writing materials and postage to any patient desiring them.

(c) IF THE HEAD OF THE HOSPITAL OR HIS AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE RECEIVES A COMPLAINT FROM A PERSON DEMONSTRATING THAT SUCH PERSON IS RECEIVING THREATENING OR HARASSING MAIL FROM A PATIENT, THE HEAD OF THE HOSPITAL OR HIS AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE MAY, AFTER PROVIDING A REASONABLE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE PATIENT TO RESPOND TO THE COMPLAINT, RESTRICT SUCH PATIENT'S MAIL TO THE COMPLAINANT. THE HEAD OF THE HOSPITAL OR HIS AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE SHALL NOTIFY THE PATIENT OF THE AVAILABILITY OF ADVOCACY SERVICES IF SUCH PATIENT'S MAILING RIGHTS ARE RESTRICTED. ANY SUCH RESTRICTION SHALL BE NOTED IN WRITING, SIGNED BY THE HEAD OF THE HOSPITAL, AND MADE A PART OF THE PATIENT'S PERMANENT CLINICAL RECORD.

[(c)] (d) If the head of the hospital or his authorized representative determines that it is medically harmful to a patient to receive mail, all such correspondence shall be returned unopened to the sender, with an explanation, signed by the head of the hospital, for its return. A copy of this explanation shall be made a part of the patient's permanent clinical record.

[(d)] (e) Every patient shall be permitted to make and receive telephone calls, except as herein provided. Public telephones shall be made available in appropriate locations.

[(e)] (f) If the head of the hospital or his authorized representative determines that a patient has made obscene or threatening telephone calls, he may restrict such patient's right to make telephone calls. Any such restriction shall be noted in writing, signed by the head of the [facility] HOSPITAL, and made a part of the patient's permanent clinical record.

[(f)] (g) If the head of the hospital or his authorized representative determines that it is medically harmful to a patient to make or receive telephone calls, this fact shall be explained, in writing, signed by the head of the hospital, to the patient's family and any persons who regularly make calls to, or receive calls from, the patient. A copy of the explanation shall be signed by the head of the hospital and placed in the patient's permanent clinical record.

Sec. 3. This act shall take effect from its passage.

Approved May 24, 1996. Effective May 24, 1996.

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