Contra Costa County to spend $250M on jail health care

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A county in the San Francisco Bay Area will spend $250 million to increase staffing and improve health care at its jails after a lawsuit alleged inmates with physical and mental problems were being neglected, including some who were potentially suicidal.

Contra Costa County reached an agreement Thursday calling for spending the money over five years, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday.

“These changes will save countless lives, reduce the suffering of people confined in the jails and increase public safety,” said Corene Kendrick, an attorney with the Prison Law Office, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of some inmates.

The county has around 800 inmates in its jails.

During negotiations over the case, medical experts hired by the county criticized its mental health system and procedures for drug and alcohol treatment, the Chronicle said.

One expert said the jails lacked proper cells and treatment

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Police and mental health: Would social workers accompanying police protect mentally ill, keep them out of jail?

It has been more than a year and a half since police shot and killed Osaze Osagie.

The parents of the 29-year-old State College man called the police because they were concerned for his well-being. He was making threats towards himself and others, police said at the time.

Officers went to his home on March 20, 2019, but they were confronted by Osagie with a knife, they said. They shot and killed him when he ignored their commands to drop the knife and ran at the officers, according to police.

It turns out he was autistic and had mental-health issues, his parents, Sylvester and Iyunolu Osagie said, insisting police should have called mental health professionals who were familiar with their son’s condition.

“Isn’t there something wrong when you send the police to protect your son and take him to the hospital and they send him to the graveyard?” his mother

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Dane County announces $300,000 for mental health crisis center, an alternative to jail | Local Government

That program could be modeled after similar initiatives in other cities, such as the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) program in Eugene, Oregon in which a team consisting of a medic and a social worker respond to some mental health 911 calls. CAHOOTS offers services including crisis counseling, suicide prevention, substance abuse, housing crisis assistance, transportation to social services and non-emergency medical care.

Madison takes first step in creating mental health first responder pilot program

Parisi noted that an estimated 40% of inmates in the Dane County Jail have mental illnesses. 

“We must do everything we can to support those in crisis and find safe alternatives to incarceration whenever possible,” Parisi said. 

The triage and restoration center initiative builds on other criminal justice reforms the county has made over the years, including implementing a community restorative court and other programs that divert people from jail, Parisi said. 

Parisi said the county is well positioned to develop the

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