New state budget includes $3 million in increased funding to reduce number of mentally ill inmates
Actions follow Sen. Bob Hertzberg’s legislative efforts
SACRAMENTO – In an effort to help prevent mentally ill inmates from returning to prison, the state spending plan approved by lawmakers today includes $3 million in additional program funding pushed by Sen. Bob Hertzberg.
“This money will go toward paying for programs to help jailed persons living with mental illness,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said after senators approved the 2015-16 budget agreement. “It can be used to provide treatment and training for people suffering from mental illness.”
Based partly on the goals of Senate Bill 621, Hertzberg’s bill to reduce crimes committed by the mentally ill, the additional money will help the state’s Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant program.
The boost is essential, Hertzberg said, because the state’s mental health system and jails are in crisis. In Los Angeles alone 3,500 inmates need medication to address mental illness, he said.
To reduce those numbers, Hertzberg requested funding to continue offering counties grant money for local treatment options for mentally ill offenders. The original program did this by developing local plans that addressed responses to mentally ill offenders, identified gaps in services, and proposed strategies for addressing mental health treatment and other needs of offenders with mental illness.
Hertzberg requested redirecting funding from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation unspent Recidivism Reduction Fund to fund the grants requested for local programs as it seems more effective and consistent with RRF to fund MIOCR grants that can be allocated and established in this fiscal year.
SB 621 would clarify that funds from the MIOCR Grant program can fund diversion programs that offer appropriate mental health treatment and services to reduce recidivism and re-incarceration of mentally ill offenders.
“This approach allows people with mental illness access to valuable resources to address their specific needs,” Hertzberg said. “To take people with mental health needs to jail as a first option is simply wrong.”
- There are more than 2 million adults with serious mental illnesses admitted to jails each year.
- Once incarcerated, people with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and are at a higher risk of re-incarceration than individuals without these illnesses.
- Jails spend up to three times more on people with mental illnesses than they do on people without those needs.
- The additional time and resources devoted to these individuals result in strained budgets and burdened taxpayers while doing little to impact the individuals, or public safety, in a positive way.
For more, visit Hertzberg’s Web site at the address below.
Bob Hertzberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, represents nearly 1 million San Fernando Valley residents of Senate District 18, which includes part of Burbank and the following communities in Los Angeles: Arleta, Granada Hills, Hansen Dam, Lake View Terrace, Mission Hills, North Hills, North Hollywood, part of Northridge, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, part of Sun Valley, Sylmar, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Van Nuys, the City of San Fernando and Universal City. See a district map HERE or at http://sd18.senate.ca.gov/district. After serving in the Assembly from 1996-2002, including two years as Speaker, Hertzberg invested in solar, wind and electric-car projects; and worked for structural changes in government through the Think Long Committee of California. More HERE or at www.senate.ca.gov/hertzberg
MEDIA CONTACT: Ray Sotero
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell