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Bill that could lift bed limit at mental health facilities receives initial approval

This week, the Maine Senate gave initial approval to a bill that could allow the state to lift a 16-bed cap at mental health facilities.

It was prompted by a Thanksgiving Day murder in Poland last year, when Justin Butterfield allegedly killed his brother. Friends of Butterfield say he has severe mental illness and that they had tried in vain for years to get him long-term hospital treatment.

If the bill passes, Maine would apply for a federal waiver to allow mental health facilities to increase the number of residential beds they provide.

Opponents have said that it will only further the institutionalization of people with mental illness, and efforts should be directed at strengthening community-level care.

Corrected: May 19, 2023 at 3:44 PM EDT
A previous version of the story mistakenly used another name in place of Justin Butterfield.