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As part of Santa Barbara County’s overhaul of its criminal justice system, the Board of Supervisors accepted a nearly $6 million grant Tuesday to fund a treatment program for minor offenders suffering from drug addiction or mental illness in an effort to divert them from jail.
“Basically what it means is we are taking the most vulnerable individuals who suffer from substance-abuse and mental-health issues — who often end up in our jail because there’s no supportive housing, no services or linkage to that directly — and build a system based on this grant and others that are coming in to do engagement in the field and get them to services,” said public defender Tracy Macuga.
Known as the Crisis Intervention, Diversion and Support (CIDS) program, it’s part of the second round of funding from Proposition 47, which was passed in California in 2014 to lessen low-level nonviolent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Santa Barbara County lost out when it applied for the first round of Prop. 47 grants in 2017.
“We have been talking about diversion since the day I stepped into this position, and this is the first time we will have meaningful diversion that will have an impact on our community in a beautiful way,” Macuga said.
Supervisor Peter Adam asked how the program will be evaluated and that he hopes it goes beyond stating the number of individuals helped.
Alice Gleghorn, the director of the County Department of Behavioral Wellness, said that it is built into the grant as a requirement. Resource Development Associates — an independent researcher — will provide a more specific evaluation of the program detailing how many diverted individuals were placed into supportive housing and substance-abuse programs, among other outcomes.
The CIDS grant, along with two others that are on the way, will collectively fund the program.
“When you combine all three grants, we are looking at spending $3 million a year for the next three years toward making a difference in diverting this population from jail,” Gleghorn said.