Missouri House passes bill to reduce jail lawsuits

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 | 1:39 p.m. CDT; updated 5:51 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 11, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri House members have approved legislation that supporters hope will reduce lawsuits stemming from suicides by inmates at jails and prisons.

The measure would require that anyone who sues because of a suicide must prove the jail or detention center was grossly negligent.

Sponsoring House member Mike Kelley says that is a tougher legal standard for plaintiffs to meet and would block warrantless litigation. Kelley, a Republican from Lamar, says reducing the number of lawsuits would save money for communities.

House members approved the measure 86-67, and it now moves to the state Senate.

Several critics raised concerns Wednesday that the legislation could lead to less robust mental health care in jails and prisons.

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