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Treatment for Mentally Ill Offenders
by Brenda Olave Campbell
Wednesday Apr 9th, 2014 12:35 PM
This is an editorial regarding the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2013 (H.R. 401/ S. 162) and the treatment of mentally ill offenders. Santa Cruz has developed innovative programs to provide individuals diagnosed with mental illness treatment rather than incarceration; other counties can learn and implement something similar if they had the funding.
Treatment For Mentally Ill Offenders

The Los Angeles County jail, a psych ward? YUP! The LA County jail has been termed the largest mental health facility in the country with over 2,000 inmates diagnosed with a mental illness, 1,800 of those are diagnosed with a co-occurring substance use disorder. The U.S. correctional system as a whole houses more persons with mental illness than all the other systems combined, that is nearly 1.3 million people diagnosed with a mental illness who are incarcerated and are receiving little to no treatment.

Mentally ill offenders in jail cost the tax payers nearly double of what a non-mentally inmate costs due to the services and medication that is required, that adds up to nearly $26,000 a year; that is more than a brand Honda Accord! In Santa Cruz County, the budget for medication alone is in excess of $100,000 a year, almost twice the median income in Santa Cruz. As we can see, the brilliant idea of the 1950’s deinstitutionalization didn’t quite pan out; the severely mentally ill just switched places from mental hospitals, where they actually received services, to jails, where they are denied treatment and the staff is not trained to work with them. It’s obvious that something needs to change!

Lucky for us, Santa Cruz County is blazing the trail for treatment for mentally ill offenders. We are known across the state for its innovative and collaborate efforts to provide treatment to mentally ill offenders rather than incarceration while addressing the needs and safety of the community. In 2012, the Health Services Agency partnered with Santa Cruz County Probation in an effort to develop the MOST program (Maintaining On-Going Stability through Treatment). This collaboration, along with contributions from the city and the Sheriff, provided the funding for the program for three years. This is not grant money or MHSA funding; this is our local agencies recognizing a problem and putting forth all available resources to serve the community.

The MOST program has proven to reduce incarceration and recidivism for mentally ill offenders who participate in the MOST program; in the 12 months prior to MOST participation individuals banked 8,661 jail days, 12 months after joining MOST the jail days have decreased to 1,392; that is a savings of more than three quarters of a million dollars, almost enough to purchase a home in Santa Cruz. The MOST program provides wrap around services for mentally ill offenders including intensive case management, jail crisis intervention team, jail discharge planner, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and alternatives to incarceration. The program also funds a downtown outreach worker who works closely with law enforcement, security firms, and merchants to identify those displaying at risk behaviors and get them the help they need, rather than being jailed, at the same time keeping the public safe.

Every year another program’s budget gets cut, and we are continually asked to do more with less. This has to stop. There is currently legislation in Congress, Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act (H.R. 401/ S. 162) which will provide $50 million in grants made available to state, tribal and local governments to be used to develop and implement programs designed to improve the outcomes for individuals diagnosed with mental illness and involved with the criminal justice system, programs like the MOST program. Other states and counties do not have to reinvent the wheel, Santa Cruz is already showing them how it is done; they just need the money to get the wheel rolling. If this legislation is passed The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act of 2013 will allow for these desperately needed services to remain funded and perhaps even expand over the next five years.

Being diagnosed with a mental illness is not an excuse to commit a crime or not pay for a crime committed, but it doesn’t mean that incarceration is the appropriate consequence; people should not be punished, they should be treated. Incarceration rather than treatment, in essence, is torture. In fact it is cruel and unusual punishment.

Brenda Olave Campbell, Sereena Wilks-Myrie, Douglas George, Luda Olson MSW Candidates at University of Southern California’s School of Social Work

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by aaaaaa
Wednesday Apr 9th, 2014 4:06 PM
you dont want ''treatment'' either! that means drugs! thats worse!
by Sylvia
Thursday Apr 10th, 2014 10:18 AM
Forced treatment, outpatient or inpatient, is, according to the United Nations, torture. a human rights violation.

Examples of what is internationally considered torture: Laura's Law, Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) to insist on medicating those who refuse, those we are considered to ill to choose for themselves, to ill to admit their illness, ...

Well, it's a boon to Pharma, and ignores that the treated die 15 - 25 years sooner, of the side-effects: obesity, diabetes, elevated blood pressure, ... metabolic disorders ...
by E. H. Campbell
Thursday Apr 10th, 2014 11:00 AM
When I was locked up this Winter down in Media, PA it seemed like everyone was lining up for Meds, I think alot of thorzine comes out of those places. Not me though, just constapation. Fuck they keep you on the edge of starvation so the inmates will beg someone on the outside to put money on their books and actually BUY food from the jail. They fuckin' straight up tried to frame me!


This only works when yopu know where the cameras are

by E. H. Campbell
Thursday Apr 3rd, 2014 11:05 AM

by E. H. Campbell
( campbell.ted [at] ) Thursday Apr 3rd, 2014 10:07 AM

The technology is so sophisticated now, they can photograph you from a squad car and automatically run your face through NCIC and drivers license photos and spit out your name and DOB, run your warrants etc. I know it was done to me this winter in Media, PA. Did three months for a crime I didn't commit on a case that was eventually dismissed for lack of evidence, but they took my picture and pos-ID me saying I fit the general description of a suspect in a strong armed robbery (5 felonies and two misdemeanors) and then claimed that they knew my name from a previous stop even though I was never stopped in Pennsylvania.

The only logical conclusion is that they got my name and DOB from a photo they took of me in a public place while I was walking down US Hwy 1, did a face recognition computer trip on it, and swore out a warrant. A month later I was stopped in North Carolina and was told I was ten seventy-five (a wanted fugitive) in Pennsylvania. I was extradited to the Delaware County Prison in Thornton, PA (George W. Hill Correctional Center, a private jail run by the Community Education Centers)

Blew my fuckin' mind. But at least I'm out. The only thing I could say to the arresting officer in N.C. was: "Thank God it's not murder."
by Unknown
Thursday Apr 10th, 2014 6:18 PM
It is inhumane to force medicate and it is not really possible to force treatment on someone- inpatient or outpatient. That being said, this article does not promote, suggest nor advocate for either.
by me,...
Friday Apr 11th, 2014 5:03 PM
it happened to me nearly killed me im brain damaged cannot relate to people. i have ailment i never had before. after only days of ''treatment''. if you say you cannot be forced ,you better investigate records of all ''facilities'' to ask them this. if they say no, they are lying and should be charged with attempted murdere. indybay, investigate ''compass health'' in state of washing ton. they force inject people. get this out to amy goodman now. kpfa contact amy goodman dave id and indybay. lets get these ''compass health''people out of business. they force inject drugs or they say they wont let you out of facility! contact lena berman of kpfa. she would need to know about ''compass health'' in state of washington. you cannot force dangerous deadly chemicals in sensitive people!