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Grant aims at mentally ill arrestees

The O.C. Sheriff's Department will use the state money to treat misdemeanor offenders.

January 24, 2007|From a Times Staff Writer

The state has awarded the Orange County Sheriff's Department a $1.5-million grant to help mentally ill people convicted of misdemeanors rather than place them in jail.

The Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction grant will pay for medication, treatment and housing while the offender is in the program, Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona said in a news release. The money will also be used to add a probation officer to the court, and clinical and psychiatric personnel in the jail to form a multi-agency collaborative effort to help mentally ill offenders.

Under the grant, a social worker and jail personnel will decide who qualifies for the program. Those chosen will be required to plead guilty to their charges and be placed on probation. The person will enter an intense treatment program for at least a year.

Of the 6,500 inmates in Orange County jails, about 900 are mentally ill, Carona said.

The county was among 21 counties that received the grants from the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

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