Steinberg Seeks $50M To Restore Mental Health Grant Program
State Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) recently proposed using $50 million in the next budget cycle to restore a grant program that would fund initiatives to reduce recidivism among prisoners with mental health issues, Capital Public Radio’s "KXJZ News" reports (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 12/19).
Background on the Program
The program -- which existed for about a decade until being shut down in 2008 because of budget cuts -- sought to reduce reoffending rates and prison overcrowding, according to the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert."
It allowed counties to apply for grants to support:
- Mental health courts;
- Substance misuse treatment facilities; and
- Employee training programs (Rosenhall, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 12/19).
A 2005 report on the program found that 53% of prisoners involved in initiatives funded by the grants returned to prison within two years, compared with 56% of prisoners not involved in such initiatives. Similarly, 32% of those enrolled in the initiatives were able to become economically independent, compared with 24% of those not involved in the programs (St. John, Los Angeles Times, 12/19/13).
Several Sacramento County officials supported Steinberg's proposal, including:
- County mental health director Dorian Kittrel;
- Chief Probation Officer Lee Seale; and
- County Supervisor Phil Serna ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 12/19/13).
Adam Christianson, Stanislaus County Sherriff, said the program was successful in that region before it was shut down.
"We have to be able to provide adequate and appropriate resources to people who need help, and get them out of the criminal justice system by working together to break cycles of addiction and violence," he said ("KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 12/19/13).
However, reinstating the funding largely depends on whether Gov. Jerry Brown (D) can obtain another delay in a federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 12/19/13).
Earlier this month, a panel of federal judges extended to mid-January 2014 negotiations about prison overcrowding between the Brown administration and prisoner advocates.
If those negotiations fail, the judges gave California an additional two months -- until April 18 -- to reduce the prison population (California Healthline, 12/12/13).
If the state is granted more time to comply with the order, Brown has said he will use some of the state's budget to boost prison-related mental health programs (Los Angeles Times, 12/19/13).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.