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Sheriff says proposed mental health cuts would burden L.A. jails

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef0120a57a6216970b-320wiLos Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on Tuesday blasted cuts to mental health services in the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget, saying they would burden the county’s already overcrowded jails.

Baca estimated that the Sheriff's Department currently has about 2,500 inmates with mental health problems in its jails, many of them in the Twin Towers facility in downtown Los Angeles. Critics have asserted that the number of mentally ill inmates is much higher, with many landing in Men’s Central Jail, a facility less equipped for mental health care.

Cutting funding to community mental health services would push the mentally ill out of clinics, onto the streets and, for many, eventually into the jails, Baca said.

“Los Angeles County jails are already the largest mental health provider in the country,” Baca said. “The timing of these cuts could not come at a worse time.”

Providing preventative mental health services in community clinics, Baca said, would be a more efficient use of tax dollars than paying for that care in jails.

“Shifting costs to the criminal justice system … is not wise public policy,” he said. 

Mental health officials estimate that the governor’s budget proposal, if passed, would redirect more than $600 million in county mental health funds. That loss in funding, officials said, would be compounded because it would limit the potential for matching federal funds.

A report released by the American Civil Liberties Union recently asserted that county jails are under-serving their mentally ill inmates. According to that report, in 2008, almost a quarter of inmates required mental health services, but only about 12% were receiving treatment.

-- Robert Faturechi

Photo: Sheriff Lee Baca. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (8)

Chevron gouged $24 billions in excessive profits in 2008, as per www.tyrannyofoil.com. Schwarzenegger should put an excessive profits tax on these profits, instead of protecting the oil corporations from fair taxation, then, there would be sufficient public funds for all the vulnerable, people programs. Big business lost the fight to eliminate domestic violence funding, so now they are coming back with a vengeance. There is no funding provision for battered women shelters in the May Revise. Schwarzee picks on the most vulnerable, and not on corporate tax "deadbeats."

It is time to release those in jail for any thing to do with the sell, use and cultivation of cannabis. Our prisons and jails are overcrowded due to the prohibition of cannabis, hemp and drugs. We can no longer afford to imprison consumers of cannabis and hemp. Vote Yes to end the prohibition of cannabis and hemp in November 2010!

The problem is one of simple math. Our society has far too many tax receivers than tax payers with more tax receivers being born hourly and flooding across our southern border daily. The mayor and his shrill minion have created a disaster that is unfolding before our eyes.

Never take "advocacy statistics" at face value.

Not anymore than Illegals already do....

@Jim Q. Citizen - would you mind sharing the citation from your numbers, I'm calling BS on your inflammatory and coincidentally ignorant comment.

LA County Jail does not "TREAT" anyone...EVERYONE GETS TORTURED THE SAME!

Now look, here’s the problem. Mental Health Services gets paid to have people in the system. The more people in the system the more they get paid. They don’t want people out of the system. But there is an answer they won’t like to get people out of the system.

We at the Citizens Commission on Human Rights have long advocated the BASICS. Many people with "mental" problems actually have a physical problem or deficiency causing the problem. A full physical is needed to determine if there is any undiagnosed illness or injury and a nutritional checkup to discover deficiencies. Then treatment of anything found followed by rest, nutrition and physical exercise would solve many of these problems that are being classified as "mental".

In 1982 the California Legislature passed a law, SB 929, to determine if 476 mental patients actually had a physical problem. The findings?

1. 39% had an active, important physical disease.
2. The mental health system had failed to detect 47.5% of these problems.
3. One in six had a physical disease that was related to the mental disorder.
4. The mental health system had failed to detect more than half of the physical diseases that were exacerbating a mental disorder.

The State even passed a law that a Manual be created based on the study to screen mental patients for physical diseases. And the Manual was created. What did the Mental Health System do with it? They ignored/buried it. It would cut into their funding!

With funding drying up now is the time to implement the Manual. For those “mental” patients with a physical problem they can be treated and released saving millions if not billions of dollars.


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