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Expansion sought for special court for mentally ill

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San Francisco supervisor Jane Kim wants to expand The City’s Behavioral Health Court citywide to help residents who have mental illness or substance abuse problems get treatment.

The health court is a collaboration providing services for mentally ill people who come into contact with the criminal justice system, according to the office of Supervisor Jane Kim.

At any given time, there are approximately 140 defendants participating in the program. Since its inception, almost 300 defendants have graduated from the program.

Expanding the court could help ensure that people do not simply re-offend because of untreated mental illness or substance abuse, Kim said.

Kim said in a statement:

“We cannot continue to use a system that isn’t working and where no one wins. … We actually took a huge step when we committed to re-envisioning a real solution instead of a new jail that simply takes taxpayer dollars and cycles people in and out.”

The court, which was created in 2002, is part of the Superior Court and comprises a collaboration between several San Francisco law enforcement and health agencies including the courts, the public defender, the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic’s Jail Psychiatric Services, UCSF’s Citywide Case Management and the city’s Department of Public Health.

The supervisor has requested a hearing on the subject and the hearing is expected to be scheduled within the next few months.

 

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