November 12, 2013

Maine prepares to expand prison mental health unit

The unit is a response to a federal funding loss at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA — Maine lawmakers are setting the stage for an expansion of a mental health unit at Maine State Prison.

A committee that will oversee the newly expanded mental health wing in Warren met for the first time Tuesday. The unit is set to open in February.

Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill to expand the unit in September in response to concerns raised over a possible loss of funding at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta. LePage said violent patients could be sent from Riverview to the prison to protect the psychiatric hospital’s patients and staff.

Despite the new law, federal regulators cut $20 million in federal funding from Riverview in October, citing a failure to comply with regulations. The state’s health department is appealing the decision and reapplying for funding.

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