JANUARY 7, 2020  |  Doug Smith

More than 60% of the inmates with a mental illness in the Los Angeles County Jail would be eligible for diversion if there were more facilities capable of providing supportive care, according to a study released Tuesday.

Such a move would save the county hundreds of dollars a day in incarceration costs for each inmate and, for many, end a cycle of being arrested and released, then becoming homeless and getting arrested again, the medical director of the county’s Office of Diversion and Reentry, Kristen Ochoa, said at a news briefing. Thousands of inmates could be taken out of the criminal justice system, she said, citing the study conducted by the nonprofit research agency Rand Corp.


Helping those offenders who do not need to be incarcerated, but who could benefit from mental health treatment, is not the antithesis of public safety, but is, rather, a true underpinning of public safety.