In addition to its rejection of the proposed women’s jail at Mira Loma and approval of a mental health treatment center for inmates, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion, authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, that will jumpstart the process of developing a road map for scaling up county diversion efforts so that men and women who will be better served by community-based diversion programs instead of jail time can access them.
The motion establishes an Alternatives to Incarceration Working Group that will compile a report in the next nine months to outline how to increase the availability of treatment options and alternatives to custody; the kind of programs and facilities needed to scale diversion, and a plan for how to establish such facilities; staffing and funding recommendations; and recommendations for legislative or policy changes needed to support these diversion efforts.
The County’s Office of Diversion and Reentry, established in 2015, has successfully diverted 3,000 justice-involved men and women into community-based restoration programs or supportive housing, and with additional resources these and other diversion programs could be expanded.
“Each of the supervisors made clear that our ultimate goal is to reduce the jail population, increase diversion, and provide a continuum of care that guides patients through needed health services at whatever level of care is most appropriate at that time,” Kuehl said. “This is the next step. With this motion, we move constructively toward that goal by developing a road map for identifying much-needed sites, beds, and facilities, as well as the resources to fund them as quickly as possible. Too many people with untreated substance abuse or mental health diagnoses have gone without the support they need to recover, rehabilitate and re-integrate into society. We intend to change that.”