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Proposed Bill Would End Maine’s Nearly 30-Year Mental Health Services Consent Decree

Mental health services in Maine have been governed by a consent decree overseen by the courts since 1990. The court master that oversees implementation of the decree is preparing legislation to end it. Mal Leary reports.

Court master Dan Wathen, the former chief justice of the Maine Supreme Court, says the proposed legislation would meet all the requirements for services under the decree and allow it to end.

“The goal is to bring it about so that we can say that we are getting so close to crossing the finish line that it is time to put this consent decree away,” he says.

He told members of the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee that he hopes to have a measure for Gov. Janet Mills to submit later in the session.

Wathen cautions that the proposal will include a probationary period to make sure the Department of Health and Human Services can meet all the requirements.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.