July 19, 2017

East County Magazine

By José A. Álvarez

The County Board of Supervisors this week adopted a new alternative custody program that will help inmates with a mental illness re-enter the community.

Programming for Reentry, Support and Stability, or PROGRESS, will address the mental health of sentenced offenders in an alternative custody setting. The County Probation Department, the Public Defender Office and the Health and Human Services Agency worked with the Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney’s Office to develop the strategy.

“We see it over and over and over again, unfortunately…individuals, that, because of their mental health and their drug use, cycle in and out of our jails,” said Supervisor Greg Cox, who spearheaded the new strategy. “Jails are not the best place to treat people with mental illness. We’ve developed an innovative pilot program to work with this population…With this pilot, we aim to make significant progress in assisting these individuals by giving them supportive services that they need before they return to the community.”

PROGRESS supports the Stepping Up Initiative, a national strategy involving more than 200 government agencies across the country. Stepping Up allows the County to collaborate with experts and national partners on best practices to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails.

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Source: JusticeCenter