October 07, 2008

CA: cut therapeutic courts now, pay later

From the Sacramento Bee:

Mental Health Court makes strides, but funds drying up

Sacramento County's Mental Health Court is diverting mentally ill, habitual, nonviolent offenders away from a cycle that spins them through jail and back on the street... Mental health court is saving millions in criminal justice costs, as it has in Santa Clara County, supporters say. And it could save much more.

"We're taking people who, through no fault of their own, can't function as a regular part of society and we're helping them," said Siena Riffia, a Sacramento County public defender who works in Mental Health Court. But just as the new court is hitting stride with stable graduates in school and on the job, the new state budget has virtually gutted the whole effort...