Safety of Citizens
The mentally ill don't belong in county jails

To the editor: Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey has told L.A. County what it needs to hear to address a serious public safety issue, and Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas is taking action. ("L.A. County to expand Laura's Law mental-illness treatment program," July 15) Last May, the board approved a $2-billion jail plan, with a large portion dedicated to more jail space for the roughly 20% of inmates who are mentally ill, despite research demonstrating that diversion can be far more effective at treating mental illness and preventing recidivism than standard jails. Inmates with mental illness are re-incarcerated at shockingly high levels. Ridley-Thomas proposes that we spend the...