by Eliza Schafler
Eliza Schafler is an MHAS Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Greenberg Traurig, LLP.
I am delighted to turn this week’s blog post over to MHAS Executive Director Jim Preis. Please enjoy his discussion of criminal justice and the positive impact of a community leader:
Honoring the District Attorney: When Law Enforcement Gets It Right
There has been much media attention in recent years on the plight of people with mental health disabilities in the California criminal justice system – including overcrowding, lack of adequate mental health care in jails and prisons, and the use of solitary confinement in lieu of treatment. In Los Angeles County, the debate has focused on building a bigger and better jail versus diverting people with mental health disabilities out of the criminal justice system.
MHAS supports the latter option. Diversion works to make communities safer. Providing housing, treatment and support stops individuals from cycling through the courts, jails and prisons. Ultimately, it is also cost-effective.
In Los Angeles,we are fortunate to have a District Attorney who gets it. Jackie Lacey has declared that the issue of incarcerating people with mental health disabilities is a “moral question.” She has created a multi-agency working group to expand diversion programs, create more treatment options, and overhaul the system from the top down. She has taken the leadership role in convening stakeholders and experts and presenting their work to the Board of Supervisors for action.
Jackie Lacey’s leadership provides great hope that, countywide, diversion will become a reality. For this reason, at our upcoming Annual Celebration on October 15, it will be our privilege to honor District Attorney Lacey for her leadership and courage. We hope you will join us.
Thank you to Jim Preis for this reminder of the positive steps we can celebrate as a community. Tickets for the MHAS Annual Celebration are available here!