Governor Objects to Statewide Expansion of Mental Health Courts
Efforts to establish mental health courts around California as part of reforms to the state prison system have drawn opposition from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Last month, the governor vetoed legislation (SB 851) by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that would have authorized Superior Courts in California to create mental health courts. Several already exist around the state.
Steinberg argued that reforming California's overcrowded prison system cannot focus only on building "more facilities to accommodate more prisoners." He added, "We have to make mental health treatment an inextricable part of this system and a major tenet of our parole system."
Schwarzenegger said he vetoed Steinberg's measure because it "allows people who have committed crimes to avoid punishment completely because of a mental health issue."
The governor also contended that the price tag for implementing the bill is too high, estimated to cost $14 million annually.
Steinberg said he will reintroduce the legislation next year (Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).