As a deputy public defender for the County of Humboldt, Casey Russo has an insider’s perspective on our criminal justice system, and when it comes to the treatment of people with mental health issues, Russo says we’re doing it wrong.
Too often, he said, people are getting cycled through the revolving doors of crime and incarceration because of untreated mental health diagnoses, including substance use disorders
A new state law is aimed at breaking that cycle. AB 1810, California’s mental health diversion bill, which was signed into law last summer by then-Gov. Jerry Brown, allows judges to reroute defendants from incarceration to customized mental health treatment programs.
The idea is to treat the underlying causes of criminal behavior while alleviating overcrowding at state mental hospitals. But Russo and others say Humboldt County isn’t taking adequate advantage of the new law.
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