VCSTAR - LOS ANGELES TO DIVERT MENTALLY ILL HOMELESS FROM JAIL full article
"That cycle so familiar to many Californians with mental illnesses may soon be interrupted thanks to the new Third District Diversion and Alternative Sentencing Program in Los Angeles County.
Designed for adults who are chronically homeless, seriously mentally ill, and who commit specific misdemeanor and low-level felony crimes, the demonstration project could help reduce recidivism by as much as two-thirds, Third District Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said..."Clearly, treating mental illness in jail does not produce the best results," Yaroslavsky said. "At present we put offenders into the mental health unit of the jail -- it's the largest mental health facility in the state. We provide mental health treatment and custodial care for approximately 3,500 people each day."
"The program will divert adults from the traditional fines, probation and incarceration typically imposed, and instead place them on a path to secure permanent, supportive housing and treatment, the MOU says.
Up to 50 adults -- including as many as 20 U.S. military veterans -- who elect to participate in the program will be released to San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center. The diversion program provides bridge and permanent supportive housing, health and mental health care, group and individual treatment and support, and employment and vocational services, said Yaroslavsky.
Misdemeanor offenders will receive a post-filing of criminal charges option and the pre-plea diversion program. Once they've completed the 90-day program, they can continue to earn permanent, supportive housing, as well as have charges against them dismissed. For felons who successfully complete the program, the court will consider whether to terminate probation early and or dismiss the case. The program for felons runs at least 18 months, and begins with a court order of 36 months of formal probation..."
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