Inmates suffering from mental illness
The Board of Supervisors voted this week today to expand an alternative incarceration program for inmates with mental health issues.
The board called for an expansion of proposed to expand the number of Forensic In-Patient Stepdown and High Observation Dorm Unit pods from the current six to 30 by June 30, 2025.
Supervisor Hilda Solis introduced the motion requesting the sheriff and director of Correctional Health Services to expand the FIP-HO Dorm pods at the Twin Towers jail and Century Regional Detention Facility. While intended for those charged with or incarcerated for criminal behavior related to their mental health, FIPS-Stepdown “avoids having a conventional jail environment,'' according to the motion.
Solis, who has visited the county's FIPS facility, said: “There are painted walls with murals, the place is clean and neat. And orderly.''
Solis said even more beneficial is the presence of a staff of specially trained inmates known as Mental Health Assistants who perform a wide variety of custodial duties with the other inmates. They are paid for their work, and recruited and trained for six months.
Solis introduced one of the assistants, Craig Anderson, to the board.
“There is a lot of value to us in doing what we do with them,'' Anderson told the supervisors, adding, “It's a life or death issue to us.''
Solis' motion requested that “the sheriff and the director of the Correctional Health Services, Department of Health Services, to continue to recruit volunteer Mental Health Assistants, including through recruitment and training initiatives, at least two times per year, more if needed.'' It also requested funding for purchases of goods, “including supplies, equipment, and services necessary to expand FIP-Stepdown and HO Dorm pods within the county jails, increase the delegated purchasing authority of the sheriff and the director of Health Services to $50,000.''