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New California Mental Health Roadmap Recommends Alternate Routes Away From Incarceration

New California Mental Health Roadmap Recommends Alternate Routes Away From Incarceration

(Article from CAFWD by Nadine Ono, published 12-12-2017)

A new strategy of alternatives to incarcerating Californians with mental health needs has been released as part of the work to help counties develop more effective criminal justice systems.

After an 18-month review, the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) this month released “Together We Can: Reducing Criminal Justice Involvement for People with Mental Illness,” a roadmap to address this complex and growing issue in California.

“One of the greatest policy failures of our time was dismantling our state mental health care institutions without having adequate community-based treatment in its place,” said MHSOAC Commissioner and Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. “Our jails shouldn’t be used in place of treatment. We believe we should, and can, do better.”

The recommendations in the MHSOAC report are designed to prevent people with mental health needs from entering the criminal justice system by aligning state and county resources to develop community mental health systems. For those who are arrested, the report recommends courts and jails provide effective treatment and diversionary efforts. The report calls on state agencies to collaborate with counties on strategies to achieve these goals.

The MHSOAC recommendations include:

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