Homeless people, mental heath consumers, family members and advocates will shed light on the report and three important related agenda items to be discussed by the County Board of Supervisors in its April 17th session.

Consumers, homeless persons and advocates are calling on the County and City to work closely to stop the revolving door and close the treatment gaps. Advocates and consumers will emphasize significant recommendations, including the need for more acute care psychiatric and transitional residential Beds and the need for Citizen’s Oversight Commission overseeing the Santa Barbara County Jail and in particular its mental health services, as highlighted by the recent press conference about Ben Warren, an young inmate confined to a “safety cell” in the jail.

Families ACT! is deeply concerned about the gaps in the current mental health and criminal justice system that perpetuate a “revolving door” of incarceration and untreated mental illness in Santa Barbara. Families ACT! commends the County Supervisors and County CEO for having taken a serious look at both the ineffectiveness of ADMHS and the relative costs of repeated incarceration of persons with mental health and co-occurring disorders compared to the cost of providing actual treatment and housing. Advocates, homeless persons and consumers alike note the tremendous positive impact such change could make in Santa Barbara that could improve the quality of life of the recovery community and save lives.

The three agenda items to be addressed by the County Board of Supervisors are:

1) The cost of homeless mentally ill recidivism in dollars and human lives

2) Mental health services at the Santa Barbara County Jail

3) The “realignment” of non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual offenders to the County.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Administration Building Steps

105 East Anapamu St

Santa Barbara, CA 93110

“The experience of being mentally ill in jail is nothing less than terrorization” says Corinne Neale, Community Organizer for Families ACT! Neale, who has Bipolar Disorder, spent two weeks in a Kentucky jail while experiencing the manic phase of her illness. Neale states “I will never be the same again. I will do everything in my power to see that those in this community can find recovery without incarceration.”

Families ACT! is proposing a five- point plan that will create community revitalization and the successful integration of those who need rehabilitative behavioral care rather than a punitive system which leaves vulnerable people hopeless:

1) Increased acute care beds 2) Transitional residential treatment centers that offer daytime programming, case managers, groups, mentorship and job coaching 3) An Employment Opportunity Program 4) Preventive strategies and options to incarceration at the point of crisis 5) A citizen’s oversight commission to monitor mental health treatment in jail.

“Mental Illness is a devastating disease and our community needs to look at the glaring lack of acute and transitional placement options for those in crisis who are trying to survive and thrive as stable individuals.’ states Suzanne Riordan, Executive Director of Families ACT.

“Housing is not enough. Our homeless and particularly those who are mentally ill and homeless need a transitional residence in order to make the shift from street life to living indoors in a safe place” states Ron Caldwell, another Community Organizer for Families ACT!

As Linda Schad, researcher at Families ACT!, states “successful programs are in place in other communities such as “The Village” in Long Beach, and “Delancey Street” in Los Angeles and San Francisco which offer exactly the kind of seamless integrated residential programming we envision for Santa Barbara. “


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