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Mental Health Treatment Bill OKd

August 22, 1986|From a Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — The Assembly on Thursday approved and sent to Gov. George Deukmejian a measure aimed at requiring some repeat offenders to receive mental health treatment before being returned to the streets.

The bill, approved on 45-29 vote, is aimed at the homeless mentally ill, who many experts believe are being shuffled off to jail repeatedly for misdemeanor offenses when treatment would be more appropriate.

Opposed by the state Department of Health Services as too costly, the bill would clarify state law allowing judges to order mental health treatment as a condition of probation.

"Up to half of the homeless are mentally ill," said Assemblyman Tom Hayden (D-Santa Monica), the bill's author. "Yet if they are arrested for a misdemeanor they get into the revolving door and are back out in anywhere from two to 14 days. They are just perpetually returned to the streets."

Hayden said he introduced the measure because of the large number of homeless people who are in his district.

The Deukmejian Administration has not taken a stand on the measure, but Hayden said he fears a veto because of the opposition of state health officials. The bill also is opposed by some civil libertarians.

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