Gov. Jerry Brown has earmarked $117 million in his new state budget to expand the number of treatment beds and mental health programs for more than 800 mentally ill inmates found incompetent to stand trial.
State officials said they have struggled to keep up with the needs of a population that has jumped in size by 33% over the last three years, as judges are increasingly referring defendants to treatment. But one state lawmaker says additional funds are not enough.
Legislators, he said, need to update the laws used by judges to evaluate the mental health of people charged with crimes. And he has proposed his own legislation to keep mentally ill offenders out of the criminal justice system.
"It seems to me that the courts, the behavioral health people, law enforcement, social work - everybody should get together and try to solve that problem," Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) said at a recent budget committee hearing. "Because it's like a bottomless pit if we don't reform."
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