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Steinberg: Addressing Mental Health Can Reduce Prison Overcrowding

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says he's been working on this plan for a while - but it's especially timely now that a three-judge panel has ruled the state's prisons are unconstitutionally overcrowded.

The goal is to reduce the rate at which paroled inmates commit new crimes and end up back behind bars.  "Increasing these programs that are recommended by the pro Tem will go a long ways to trying to reduce recidivism and also improve public safety," says Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal.

The proposals would add more rapid-response resources, increase assistance with Medi-Cal enrollment, and expand a program that helps mentally ill parolees.

"The vast majority of people who enter county jail or state prison are going to leave," Steinberg says, "and they're going to become part of our communities again.  The question for us is are we going to do everything we can - that is reasonable, that is cost-effective, that is consistent with public safety - to ensure they don't go back?" 

But any results of those actions would be long term - and Steinberg acknowledges they probably wouldn't reduce the prison population quickly enough to meet the state's court order.

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