Speaker Carl Heastie today announced the passage of legislation to affirm that police and correctional agencies must provide attention to the medical and mental health needs of individuals in their custody (A.8226-B, Fernandez).
One of my goals since becoming speaker was to enact meaningful criminal justice reforms, and recent events have only heightened the need for these reforms, said Speaker Heastie. This legislation duly puts the responsibility onto law enforcement to protect those in their custody and to prevent needless suffering or death.
Too many people in police custody have suffered or died because those responsible for them neglected to provide medical attention to injuries or illnesses, said Assemblymember Nathalia Fernandez. This bill is critical to protecting individuals in police custody and to prevent this needless suffering in the future.
In recent years there have been numerous disturbing reports of individuals who have been injured during arrest or become injured or ill subsequent to arrest and while in custody. In many cases, adequate medical care had been denied or unreasonably delayed, causing needless suffering and pain and even in some extreme cases the death of these individuals. By specifically affirming a duty of care, this legislation will help prevent individuals in custody from having to endure further distress or harm in the future.