June 12, 2021 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Supervisors Set Aside $20 Million To Treat, Rather Than Jail, Mentally Ill Offenders:

The Board of Supervisors agreed on Tuesday to set aside $20 million for diversion programs designed to treat, rather than jail, mentally ill offenders.

The allocation was one of several made as the board finalized changes to its 2014-15 budget.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended funding alternatives to incarceration, including mental health services, substance abuse treatment, job counseling and supportive housing for the mentally ill.

“We know that jail is not the best place to treat the mentally ill and substance abusers,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Jail only makes the mentally ill sicker, and this county has not been able to figure out how to keep them stabilized and healthy.”

Mentally ill people are jailed at higher rates than others and the numbers are outpacing the county’s ability to properly treat them. Officials say there are 3,500 mentally ill inmates in the county jails on any given day.

They typically have a hard time making bail and their cases take longer to resolve.

The Department of Justice has said it will seek court oversight of the county’s treatment of mentally ill inmates, citing high levels of suicides and other failures.

District Attorney Jackie Lacey is spearheading efforts at reform, and her recommendations on diversion are expected later this fall. The $20 million is being set aside in anticipation of her report.

Proponents of diversion say it is both more humane and less expensive than jail.

“Unnecessarily jailing people with mental illness is not only expensive, because they can be treated for a fraction of the cost using community-based programs,” Ridley-Thomas said. “But it is also harsh and insensitive and, dare I say, inhumane. Having an untreated mental illness should not be a crime.”

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky pointed out that a pilot diversion program is already underway in Van Nuys.

By choosing to complete a diversion program, chronically homeless or seriously mentally ill people who commit select misdemeanor or low-level felony offenses can avoid jail time.

The diversion program runs from 90 days to 18 months, depending on the offense, and participants are offered transitional housing and support services such as health and mental health care.

“It’s directed at chronically homeless and seriously mentally ill persons. I think it’s clear that that’s the way we have to go to make a program like this work; otherwise you don’t really address the root causes,” Yaroslavsky said.

Efforts are also underway in the Second District, which Ridley-Thomas represents. The Martin Luther King Jr. Mental Health Urgent Care Center opened earlier this month, offering a one-stop shop for those in crisis due to a mental illness. Patients can receive psychiatric evaluation, crisis intervention, substance abuse counseling and medication support from an on-site team of experts.

in News
Related Posts

Martin Cadillac Redevelopment Takes Shape on Olympic Near Bundy

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

West Edge development underway near Expo/Bundy station By Sam Catanzaro Wood and concrete framing is now visible at the Martin...

Sheriff Villanueva Announces Plan to Clear Encampments by July 4th

June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

LASD Homeless Outreach Services Team visits Venice Boardwalk Tuesday By Sam Catanzaro Deputies were on the Venice Beach Boardwalk Tuesday...

In-Person Events Are Back with Summer Swing Nights: Jazzy Vocals plus Live Big Band – Now with Tap Dance, Swing Lessons, Vendors to Benefit Museum

June 10, 2021

June 10, 2021

Live, in-person entertainment is bringing out happy fans of all ages for Summer Swing Nights: Drive-In Edition. The concert fundraiser features the...

Annenberg Beach House Set for Reopening

June 8, 2021

June 8, 2021

Community beach house begins reopening June 15 for splash pad, stand up paddle and courtyard The Annenberg Community Beach House...

Letters to Editor: Main Street Closures

June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

The following are two letters sent to the Santa Monica Mirror, one in support and one in opposition, regarding a...

Man Attempts to Cut Throat at St. Monica’s Coffee Shop

June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

Victim in stable condition following Monday morning incident By Sam Catanzaro A man is in stable condition after cutting himself...

Will Parking Structure #3 Be Demolished? Santa Monica Beat – June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Will Parking Structure #3 Be Demolished? * Police Make Two Arrests...

Santa Monica City Council to Consider Main Street Traffic Closure

June 7, 2021

June 7, 2021

City staff recommending closure of the roughly 1,000 feet between Hill Street and Kinney Avenue  By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica...

Artists Featured For SaMo Pride Rainbow Road Art Walk

June 4, 2021

June 4, 2021

In honor of Pride month Santa Monica Pride (SaMo Pride) is featuring a Rainbow Road Art Walk from June 4th-...

Santa Monica Affordable Housing Development Takes Shape

June 4, 2021

June 4, 2021

Pacific Landing apartments underway at Lincoln and Pacific  By Sam Catanzaro A $28 million affordable housing development is taking shape...