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Board discusses motion to increase mental health beds


‘Care-first settings’ is objective

In what's billed as a first step toward slashing the population of county jails, the Board of Supervisors this week considered a motion that would begin the process of establishing 500 security mental health care beds to accommodate the most seriously ill county jail inmates.

The ultimate objective is to create “care-first settings which would allow for those with serious mental illness to stabilize and recover–a process which is increasingly difficult in an overcrowded jail setting,” according to the board motion by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Janice Hahn.

The motion estimates that more than 1,700 inmates, or roughly 12% of the jail's population, are considered among the most seriously mentally ill, categorized as P3 or P4.

Category P3 individuals are those “who are hurting themselves and prone to recurrent violence” and “cannot be safely or adequately treated in a setting that requires independent control of their behavior,” according to the board motion. P4 individuals present a danger of “harm to themselves and others” and are “prone to refuse treatment and extremely disorganized thinking and behavior.”

The 500 proposed beds would be prioritized for jailed individuals in both categories.

The motion would direct the Department of Health Services, the Department of Diversion and Re-entry, the Department of Mental Health, the District Attorney and public defenders to work with the Chief Executive Office to develop a budget for the beds, including proposed staffing, and report back with a list of funding available from state and federal sources.