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Criminal Justice

LA County Nearly Doubles Size of Program That Diverts People With Mental Illness From Jail

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L.A.'s Twin Tower Correctional Facility (Robert Garrova )
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The L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted today to nearly double the size of a program that diverts people with a mental illness who are incompetent to stand trial into community-based treatment.

With the county accepting about $35 million in additional state funds for the expansion, the Office of Diversion and Reentry will increase the number of beds available in its Felony Incompetent to Stand Trial program from 215 to 415.

Advocates had pushed for the county to accept the increased funding from the state, citing too many people languishing in county jail as they await transfer to a mental health facility.

This move comes at a time when there are more people with mental health issues in L.A. County’s jails than ever — more than 6,000. Pamila Lew, senior attorney at Disability Rights California, called the vote “fantastic, very welcome news.”

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“This is the group of individuals who are considered the most difficult to meet the needs for and they’re the ones who have been left in jail."

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