Calif. Democrats Want To Boost Mental Health Funds for Prisons, Jails
As California lawmakers debate the state budget this week, Democrats are pushing to allocate tens of millions more in mental health services funding for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports.
The discussions come amid lawsuits against the state and some counties related to the treatment of inmates with mental illnesses.
Sunday is the deadline for state lawmakers to pass a budget.
Details of Funding Requests
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has proposed allocating $500 million in bond money to expand county jails so they are able to house the thousands of new inmates who are being moved from state prisons under Brown's three-year realignment law. Senate Democrats want to expand how that funding can be used to allow counties to put it toward mental health and substance use treatment facilities.
In addition, Senate Democrats are seeking:
- $175 million for eight programs aimed at helping inmates with mental health issues, as well as the law enforcement officers and prison guards who work with them, which is about $85 million more than what is included in Brown's budget;
- $90 million for programs to help inmates with mental health or substance use problems;
- $50 million in grants for counties for substance use treatment, job training and other programs to help inmates with mental health issues; and
- $24 million to train prison employees who work with inmates with mental illnesses.
Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), chair of the Senate Mental Health Caucus, said, "It's very clear that we've criminalized the mental health system over the last several decades," adding, "We need to have a system that provides mental health treatment not as a criminal act but as a public health issue."
However, Aaron Maguire, a lobbyist for the California State Sheriffs' Association, said the Senate Democrats' proposal "dilutes the pot of money that really needs to go to counties that have those old and aged facilities" (Thompson, AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.