Several California Senate and Assembly bills wended through the State Legislature and became law Jan. 1. Over the next few weeks, the Town Crier will explain their ramifications.
Assembly Bill 1810
Mental health diversion
AB 1810, approved June 27, is an amendment to multiple sections of the Government Code to create opportunities for mentally ill defendants to get the help they need.
More than 400 specialized courts across California exist to help define the root causes of crime, and AB 1810 will strengthen the resources they can provide by funneling $100 million into county programs that divert defendants from jails into treatment, according to the state judicial branch’s website.
Assemblyman Marc Berman and State Sen. Jerry Hill – who represent Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Mountain View – voted in favor of the bill.
The bill includes resources for those suffering from some diseases but not others; mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder are covered in the existing state Penal Code, while personality disorders such as antisocial or borderline personality disorders are not. The defendant can be enrolled in a diversion program if the court is certain that his or her disorder played a significant role in the crime. No defendant who has committed a violent crime such as murder or voluntary manslaughter, rape or lewd or lascivious acts on a child is eligible.
AB 1214 addresses mental illness at the juvenile justice level by establishing procedures that should be followed during a dedicated timeline to evaluate any minors whose competency is questionable. It also helps to ensure correct evaluation of remediation services.
AB 1214 author Mark Stone (29th District) celebrated the bill’s passage with a post on social media, noting that the State Legislature passed the bill “to make sure that youth who are incompetent to stand trial don’t languish in juvenile halls while they wait for much needed services.”