Keeping people with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and instead connecting them to treatment services is a critical goal for Nevada County. These efforts received a significant boost this past week when the Board of State and Community Corrections awarded the Behavioral Health Department $1 million dollars of Prop 47 funding to further this work. Specifically these funds will support more outreach and engagement of people with a long history of arrests and minor crimes that are primarily the result of their mental illness and substance use disorder.
New grant funded staff will focus on engaging this population both at the point of possible arrest as well as post-incarceration and try to steer people into treatment services. The grant also allows the department to fund more housing which is critical for people who are homeless and cycling in and out of jail. Stable housing can be the first step towards recovery and a healthier lifestyle free of criminal behavior.
This grant supports the County's efforts to implement the goals of Stepping Up, a national initiative that provides a framework of best practices for communities to minimize the incarceration of people with mental illness. The grant will also add capacity to the newly formed HOME Team to increase their ability to do outreach with people who are homeless and engage them in treatment services.
Prop 47 funding results from a voter initiative that reduced certain low-level crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and directs state savings to programs primarily focused on mental health and substance-use disorder treatment. Nevada County was one of 23 projects to be awarded a grant in a competitive process that involved requests for almost $200 million in funding. Most of the grant funds will be expended through contracts with local non-profits that provide critical services to this high need population.