Senate sends governor plan to reduce recidivism by providing help to mentally ill offenders

Measure recognizes efforts to reduce disparities in care

September 3, 2015

SACRAMENTO – In support of diversion programs that reduce recidivism among certain mentally ill offenders, the Assembly passed and sent to Gov. Brown a funding plan sponsored by Sen. Bob Hertzberg.

“Too many people with mental health needs are taken to jail as a first option,” Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said after the Assembly unanimously approved Senate Bill 621 late Wednesday. “This bill will help make clear that counties can apply for special grants to pay for diversion programs for the mentally ill. This will save tax dollars and help those in need become more self-sufficient and stay out of jail.”  

Specifically, SB 621, with support from Jackie Lacey, the District Attorney for Los Angeles County, clarifies that the funds in the state’s Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant program can legally be used for diversion programs.

Hertzberg had already successfully pushed for $1.7 million in additional funding in the recently adopted state budget to help prevent mentally ill offenders from returning to prison through the state’s program for the mentally ill.  Besides going toward programs to help jailed persons living with mental illness, the money can be used to provide treatment and training for people suffering from mental illness.  

Additional Background

  • 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.

SB 621 has not received a single ‘No’ vote. Gov. Brown has 30 days to sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without his signature.

For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 621, visit his 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 athttp://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

Communications Director
Sen. Bob Hertzberg, Senate District 18
Capitol Building, Room 4038
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4018 office; 916 834-1128 cell; or ray.sotero@sen.ca.gov

www.sen.ca.gov/hertzberg

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