May 29, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Mental Illness Diversion Program Proposal Gains Santa Monica Support:

Though only a ceremonial act of support, the Santa Monica City Council unanimously voted July 22 to support an effort by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to create a diversion program for people with mental illness to avoid staying in prison but instead sent into “effective community-based treatment.”

The initiative was brought to the Board of Supervisors by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and was based upon a report released in July by the ACLU of Southern California and the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

That report, entitled “A Way Forward: Diverting People with Mental Illness From Inhumane and Expensive Jails into Community-Based Treatment that Works,” stated about 500,000 inmates in local jails nationwide have some form of mental illness, with as much as 25 percent of them diagnosed with schizophrenia or some other serious ailment.

“When people with mental health issues are picked up [by law enforcement], they’re thrown in jail. That seems insane to me,” Council member Kevin McKeown, who requested this issue be placed on the July 22 agenda, told his colleagues. “There is a movement underway now to create diversion programs for people with mental illness issues, to get them out of the inhumane – and very-expensive-to-the-taxpayer – jail system and into effective community-based treatment.”

According to the “A Way Forward” report, “at least 3,200 inmates with a diagnosed severe mental illness crowd the jails on a typical day,” in Los Angeles County, or about 17 percent of the jail population.

“These numbers capture only the number of inmates with a diagnosed severe mental illness,” the report continued. “The actual number may well be higher. Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca has called L.A.’s jail system ‘the nation’s largest mental hospital.’”

The report added it is a mistake to try to treat people with a mental illness in jail.

“Jail is a horrific place for a person with mental illness,” the report stated, adding the process of deinstitutionalization from the 1950s to the 1990s resulted in a dramatically sharp drop in mental institutions nationwide.

“The lack of community mental health services, coupled with mass incarceration of non-violent offenders, has resulted in three jails  – the Los Angeles County Jails, Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City, and Cook County Jail in Chicago – having the distinction of being the nation’s largest psychiatric institutions,” the report stated. “The combination of adverse jail and prison conditions and the lack of adequate and effective treatment resources may result in some prisoners with preexisting mental health conditions suffering an exacerbation of symptoms and even some otherwise healthy prisoners developing mental illness during their incarceration.”

Deinstitutionalization and the lack of available “community-based alternatives” have, according to the report, resulted in both persons with mental illnesses contributing to the overpopulation of local jails and increasing correctional and operational costs.

Accordingly, the report suggests a diversion program be created for people with mental illnesses to be sent, if arrested and convicted, to a community-based treatment program.

“Because doing so will improve public safety by dramatically reducing the rate of future offenses; it will save money by cutting correctional costs and reducing the need for new jail facilities; and it will be far more effective at treating mental illness. It will also prevent those with mental illness from suffering physical and sexual abuse at the hands of deputies and other inmates while incarcerated,” the report stated.

The report found the County spends an estimated $10 million annually on psychiatric medication for inmates with mental illness. Even more, the report also stated about 33 percent of deputy-on-inmate force incidents involve individuals with mental illness.

“Inmates with mental illness are far more likely to suffer sexual and physical assault in jail, and commit suicide at elevated rates while incarcerated,” the report stated. “Evidence-based programs like supportive housing … have shown drastic drops in recidivism and significant improvements in mental health. These programs would also be less expensive for the County than warehousing people with mental illness in jails.”

How the County’s proposal plays out remains to be seen, yet the Board of Supervisors has Santa Monica’s blessings in trying to move forward in trying to address the treatment of people with mental illnesses in local jails.

in News
Related Posts

Seller of Bel Air Mansion Furious After Property Flops at Auction

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

Mansion on Sarbonne Road in Bel Air fails to meet $50 million reserve price By Sam Catanzaro The seller of...

Environmental Review Begins for West Los Angeles Civic Center Redevelopment

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

The West LA Commons set to bring 926 units of housing and 36,569 square feet of retail to Santa Monica...

Is Santa Monica’s Most Expensive Property Still a Bargain?

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

22,640 square-foot property on market for $69 million By Dolores Quintana The most expensive property in Santa Monica has been...

Must-Watch ‘Disruptive’ Appliance Experience Store Opens in West Los Angeles, Hosts Grand Opening in June

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

Howard’s West Los Angeles Experience Center opening at 900 La Brea Boulevard  By Susan Payne West Los Angeles is home...

Marina Del Rey Family Searches for Missing 29-Year-Old Son With Autism

May 27, 2022

May 27, 2022

J​​eremy Hansbrough missigns cine May 16 By Sam Catanzaro A Marina del Rey family is searching for their 29-year-old son...

Santa Monica Pier to Feature High-Flying Waving American Flag on  Ferris Wheel During Memorial Day Weekend

May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier’s Ferris wheel will feature a high-flying 130-feet tall, animated waving American flag throughout...

Message From Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati

May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022

Dear Parents, Guardians, Staff and Community Members, Sadly, we have learned of another horrific school shooting, this time in the...

Three Juveniles in Hosptial Following Overdose in Santa Monica

May 26, 2022

May 26, 2022

Two females in critical but stable condition, third victim “alert and recovering” By Sam Catanzaro Three juveniles suffered an overdose...

John Adams Middle School Student Selected to Perform at Carnegie Hall

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

JAMS Student Grayson Fitzgerald named junior finalist for the 2022 middle school honors performance series at Carnegie Hall By Staff...

SMC Student Film “The War Within” Accepted into 2022 American Pavilion at Cannes

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Three Santa Monica College Films Will Screen at In-Person Festival, including 2021 Best Student Film Winner “Broken Layers” and 2020’s...

Santa Monica City Council Looks to Shorten Meetings

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Council to consider changes at Tuesday meeting By Dolores Quintana Santa Monica lawmakers are considering taking steps to shorten City...

Landmark Theater Official Closes on Pico

May 24, 2022

May 24, 2022

Pico Boulevard location closes Sunday By Sam Catanzaro The Landmark Theater on Pico Boulevard in Westwood has officially closed.  The...

Road Closures Expected During Demolition Of Parking Structure Three: Santa Monica Beat – May 23rd, 2022

May 23, 2022

May 23, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.* Free Donuts At Randy’s Donuts For National Doughnut Day* Road Closures Expected...

Los Angeles Metro Sees 15.9 Percent Increase in Median Rent

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Median rent of $2,258, according to recent report By Dolores Quintana The ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the issues of housing...

New Renderings for Frank Gehry Hotel Development in Santa Monica

May 20, 2022

May 20, 2022

Project would include hotel, apartments, retail and a museum By Dolores Quintana Slowly but surely, plans for a  Frank Gehry-designed...