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Home » Santa Clarita News » Los Angeles County News » AB 109 Report Discusses Mental Health Treatment, ‘Split-Sentencing’
AB 109 Report Discusses Mental Health Treatment, 'Split-Sentencing'

AB 109 Report Discusses Mental Health Treatment, ‘Split-Sentencing’

The County of Los Angeles Probation Department reported to the Board of Supervisors on the latest statistics and issues relating to Assembly Bill 109 and prison realignment.

Since the passage of Assembly Bill 109, more than 20,000 offenders had been released into Los Angeles County, up 2,000 from the numbers released in December.

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The County of Los Angeles Probation Department reported to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday regarding their latest efforts to deal with the AB 109 population and specifically how the county deals with parolees required to complete mental health treatment.

The Probation Department currently oversees little fewer than 8,500 active cases, which has been “fairly steady over last to six to eight months and will remain in that ballpark for the next six months or so,” said Chief Probation Officer Jerry Powers.

During the Dec. 17 report, Supervisor Gloria Molina had asked about what happens to those parolees who refuse to engage in required mental health treatment.

Related County Officials Report On AB 109 Results At County Board Meeting

Probation Department AB 109 staffAt the time, Marvin Southard, director of the Mental Health Department, and Jonathan Fielding, director of the Department of Public Health reported that their departments had 68 percent success and 39 percent success, respectively.

“I think it’s a very difficult group to keep engaged,” Fielding said. “They obviously come with a lot of baggage and a lot of problems.”

Currently, of the 7,000 parolees required to report for mental health treatment about 13 percent, or 912, are non-compliant, Powers said.

“Over half of those are going to sustain a new criminal arrest,” he said. “I think I’m safe in saying that those arrest numbers would have been significantly lower had they complied.”

The number of rearrests for parolees who refuse to comply with drug treatment programs is about the same as for the mental health patients, Powers said.

The rate of completion for drug treatment programs is about 32 percent, according to the Department of Public Health.

The number is closer to 50 percent, Fielding said, if they include the parolees who did not complete their required treatment but still had a satisfactory outcome.

Powers also addressed the issue of AB 109 offenders who are not even assigned to the Probation Department after their release.

Offenders that would have previously been under the jurisdiction of the state Parole Department after their release, must now be assigned to the county Probation Department by the court during sentencing.

“The way the law is construction now, that is not automatic…” Powers said. “The county does not have the ability to compel them to do it.”

The practice of sentencing offenders to serve part of their time in county jails and part under the supervision of the Probation Department is known as “split sentencing.”

Of the 16,000 offenders sentenced in L.A. County since AB 109 was implemented, only 1,000 have received a split sentence.

“(That’s) 15,000 who are going to walk out of jail and are not going to be required to go to drug treatment…” Powers said. “Fifteen thousand is an alarmingly high number for individuals who would have previously gone to state prison.”

The primary issues facing the county are public safety concerns and a drain on county resources, Powers said.

“They’re called churners,” Powers said, referring to repeat offenders. “These are people who cycle through the system over and over again… These churners clog up our system. We spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with them.”

Both the Probation Department and the Department of Mental Health expressed the need for additional funding and personnel to deal with the AB 109 population.

Powers presented a timeline for approving a proposal to hire additional support staff in the department, with an anticipated completion date in July.

More detailed numbers and the full PowerPoint presentation from Tuesday’s report can be found here.

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Source: Santa Clarita News

AB 109 Report Discusses Mental Health Treatment, ‘Split-Sentencing’

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