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Lawmakers Concerned Jails, Prisons Becoming New Mental Health Institutions

May 7, 2015

By Ron Jones
CBS Sacramento

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The number of mentally ill people in local jails has reached a crisis point as lawmakers say millions are going untreated.

Lawmakers say county jails and state prisons are becoming the new mental health institutions. Mental health advocates and law enforcement professionals are demanding changes in how jails across the state handle the mentally ill.

“This is not a new problem but it is a growing problem,” said Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens.

According to the American Psychiatric Foundation, that number is 2 million and growing.

“Its a big issue. A lot of folks who are in county jail right now shouldn’t be there. they should be treated,” said Assemblyman Jim Cooper.

Lawmakers say the jails are becoming a revolving door, placing potentially dangerous people back in neighborhoods.

Now a coalition of public servants is asking every county body throughout California to embrace their nationwide stepping-up initiative. They say it creates viable mental-health treatment programs to reduce criminal behavior and recidivism.

The funding is expected to come through grants and private donations

Those campaigning for the initiative say all county leaders need to do is pass a resolution supporting it and they’ll raise the money.

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