Vermont Community Reentry Center Prepares to Open Pilot Program Helps Adults with Mental Health Needs THE COURT CLINIC PILOT PROGRAM BEGINS In collaboration with the Office of L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, other County departments, and community-based organizations, Probation will soon open a new Community Reentry Center (CRC) that will provide a one stop shop of resources for adult felony probationers, their families, and the community surrounding the reentry center. The CRC will offer a wide range of community-based, rehabilitative services with the goal of reducing recidivism and supporting the probationer’s successful completion of Probation supervision. Proposed services at the CRC will include: Employment Services; Training and Education; Housing Resources; Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Treatment; Legal Services; Music, Arts, and Theater Programming; and numerous Supportive Services. Scheduled to open in June 2019, the three-story center will conveniently serve many of our clients. The Vermont CRC also brings several unique opportunities due to its proximity to the University of Southern California School of Social Work’s services and other area resources. Los Angeles County was awarded a two-year grant from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2019 to address over-incarceration of the mentally ill, one of the main drivers of the local jail population. Data collected reflects that one in five L.A. County inmates suffer from a serious mental illness. During 2017, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed approximately 10,000 misde- meanor cases, for which an estimated 20 to 30 percent require mental health services. With the leadership of the Public Defender’s Office, L.A. County will pilot the Court Clinic (Pretrial Misdemeanor Mental Health Diversion) Program at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center, Department 40 in conjunction with these entities: Probation Pretrial Services (PTS), L.A. City Attorney’s Office, Alternate Public Defender, Sheriff’s Department, Mental Health, Public Health, County Counsel’s Bail Reform Team and other health agencies. The county’s plan will implement strategies aimed at expanding pre- plea diversion options for those whose alleged offense is a result of a men- tal disorder and meeting the needs of those who cycle between medical and/ or mental health facilities and custody environments, with a focus on the homeless population. This new initiative will embed mental health professionals in the courtroom, providing same-day assessments of defendants who appear to suffer from a mental health disorder, and pre-plea release and diversion of qualifying individuals into mental health treatment programs. During 2017, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed approximately 10,000 misdemeanor cases, for which an estimated 20 to 30 percent require mental health services. Successful Mental Health Court Program Expands FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND COUNTY PROGRAM THAT BREAKS THE CYCLE OF INCARCERATION AND HOMELESSNESS EXTENDS REACH ACROSS L.A. COUNTY The expansion of a groundbreaking program called Office of Diversion and Reentry (ODR) Housing that removes mentally ill inmates from the jail and provides them with intensive case management and supportive housing, has expanded to include more courts across the County. The expansion came after a new study showed how many more individuals could benefit from this program that improves public safety and saves public funds. Until now, only people whose cases were heard in the Superior Court’s down- town L.A. Central District could divert from jail into case management and housing. Now, two courthouses serving nine districts can hear these cases. By the end of the year, mentally ill inmates from all over the County may be eligible for treatment and services instead of jail. ODR Housing cases represent a unique partnership across the County’s Justice and Health Departments. Each case is reviewed by the District Attorney, the Public Defender or the Alternate Public Defender, ODR, the Probation Department, and ultimately the Court itself. Once approved, participants enter ODR’s residential programming. Under the supervision of specially-trained probation officers, they begin treatment in interim housing and eventually tran- sition into permanent housing, robust support services and reintegration into the community. The L.A. County Office of Diversion and Reentry has diverted 1,728 people from jail using this program since 2016. Participants receive permanent supportive housing and long-term intensive case management to meet their ongoing medical and mental health care needs, making communities safer and breaking the cycle between jail and homelessness. With over 90 percent of participants remaining in housing after six months, the program’s success record represents an inflection point in L.A.’s justice system and demonstrates that community safety and reentry can be achieved through collaboration. Currently, one-third of the men in the L.A. County jail suffer from mental illness. As of February 2019, the jail mental health population totaled 5,134 out of an overall jail population of 16,621. A report from the Department of Health Services showed that the program may break the cycle between jail and home- lessness for thousands more people than previously thought—56 percent of that jail mental health population, or nearly 2,900 people. “It has been said that the true test of the heart of a community is how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. The visionary leadership provided by the Office of Diversion and Reentry, the Court, our Probation leadership team and supervising officers, and other part- ners is a manifestation of a caring heart, said L.A. County Chief Probation Officer Terri L. McDonald. “The Probation Department is honored to be a partner in this paradigm-shifting effort which has already yielded positive outcomes. I am very proud of the probation offi- cers who have done incredible work in supervising and supporting their clients in this program.” Back on Track Program Creates Successful Reentry for Adults Back on Track (BOT), a program that provides Probation clients with a successful reentry into the community, has seen great success in preventing recidivism by changing the way the Department views probation officers and clients. One of the key elements of the program centers around some- thing as simple as the language used. For example, calling probationers “participants,” and probation officers “coaches” transitions language from a correctional-based mindset to a more societal-based one. BOT participants include both AB 109 and regular adult Probation cli- ents. To develop a rapport, coaches begin to meet with the participants six months before their scheduled release date to discuss their risks and needs and develop a realistic case plan that provides them with the services they need to be successful. BOT has received glowing reviews for its effectiveness and BOT coaches have applaud the program’s results. The coaches have become highly efficient at helping the participants with a variety of needs and services including: •  transitional housing; •  mental health and substance abuse programs; •  employment readiness and referrals; •  basic personal budget planning; and •  transportation assistance. ADULT SERVICES The Probation Department The Probation Department ADULT SERVICES 10 11