CA Governor is in LA to Discuss Mental Health Courts for Homeless People

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

California Governor Gavin Newsom was in Los Angeles Thursday to discuss his new CARE Court program that would create mental health courts in every county, allowing treatment for more homeless people with severe mental health and addiction disorders but also could force some of them into care -- a move that's been criticized.

Newsom traveled to meet with health care and service providers, and local and judicial officials.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said at a press conference days prior that he has no intention of rounding people up and locking them away. Instead, he said his plan would offer a way for people to get court-ordered psychiatric treatment, medication and housing, preferably before they are arrested.

Under the plan, which requires approval by the Legislature, all counties would have to set up a mental health branch in civil court and provide comprehensive and community-based treatment to those suffering from debilitating psychosis. People need not be homeless to be evaluated by a court.

But if approved, they would be obligated to accept the care or risk criminal charges, if those are pending, and if not, they would be subject to being held in psychiatric programs involuntarily or lengthier conservatorships in which the court appoints a person to make health decisions for someone who cannot.

“There’s no compassion stepping over people in the streets and sidewalks,” Newsom told reporters at a briefing at a mental health treatment facility in San Jose. “We could hold hands, have a candlelight vigil, talk about the way the world should be, or we could take some damn responsibility to implement our ideas and that’s what we’re doing differently here.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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