More than 60% of the inmates with a mental illness in the Los Angeles County Jail would be eligible for diversion if there were more facilities capable of providing supportive care, according to a study released Tuesday.
Such a move would save the county hundreds of dollars a day in incarceration costs for each inmate and, for many, end a cycle of being arrested and released, then becoming homeless and getting arrested again, the medical director of the county’s Office of Diversion and Reentry, Kristen Ochoa, said at a news briefing. Thousands of inmates could be taken out of the criminal justice system, she said, citing the study conducted by the nonprofit research agency Rand Corp.
“This is a tool I hope we can use to its fullest,” Ochoa said. “I think all we need right now are resources to increase our capacity.”
About 30% of those in the county jail each day are either in the mental health ward or receiving psychotropic medication. That number stands at about 6,000, after rising steadily in recent years.
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