L.A. County Agrees to New Policies Assisting Mentally Ill Inmates Upon Leaving Jail

In this undated photo, an inmate at Los Angeles County's Twin Towers jail sleeps on a cot. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

In this undated photo, an inmate at Los Angeles County's Twin Towers jail sleeps on a cot. (Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County agreed Thursday to new jail-release planning policies designed to interrupt the incarceration-to-skid row pipeline for inmates with mental illness and dementia.

The new procedures are aimed at stabilizing an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 mentally ill inmates who leave jail each month and at helping them find housing, benefits and employment and thus avoid reoffending.

“We know if you leave the jail with a place to stay and your next follow-up appointment you’re less likely to reoffend,” said Timothy G. Belavich, director of mental health for the jail. “We really do believe this will reduce our recidivism, especially among the mentally ill.”

Although the county had been offering some release planning, mentally ill inmates continued to be put out in the streets in the middle of the night without medication or a clear understanding of where to go for treatment.

Read the full story at LATimes.com.