State Senate Democrats on Wednesday offered a $165-million package of proposals aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill people locked up in prisons and jails in California.
The proposals, offered just days after a disturbed student killed six people in Isla Vista, Calif., also would provide $12 million in additional funds to train law enforcement officers to recognize and handle people who may be a threat to themselves and others.
The proposals offered by Senate President Pro Tem
One proposal would provide $20 million to set up 20 additional Mental Health Courts that would divert mentally ill criminals, before they are sentenced, from prison to mental health facilities. The Democrats also proposed spending $50 million more to fund treatment programs aimed at preventing mentally ill criminals from returning to prison.
"The number of the mentally ill who are incarcerated has skyrocketed, to the point that nearly half of all California inmates have been treated for mental illness within the past year," Steinberg said.
He said they tend to be given longer sentences than those without mental illness.