County ought to construct psychological well being middle, not new jail

You need look no further than the Michael Hogan tragedy to see the need to build a mental health / wellness center in place of a new Santa Clara County prison. I fully agree with Board Member Susan Ellenberg for expressing her concern about the District Executive Committee document that was recently presented to the Board of Directors.

The report, which advocated a new 535-bed facility to replace the main South Prison, is a slap in the face for community groups and civil rights activists who met with elected officials just last year to promote a treatment center for people with mental health problems People struggling with alcohol and drug use disorders.

Addressing the relapse problem is one of the main tenants in my campaign for the sheriff. Our prisons have to be about more than housing people for a period of time and then sending them back into the same situation. We need social workers and advice for the prisoners as well as education and job placement opportunities. Mental health is an essential part of this. We need to set up and fund a program that combines law enforcement and social and medical services.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, nearly a third of California residents incarcerated have documented serious mental illness. Many would agree that prisons and jails have become standard mental health facilities in our state.

There are hundreds and hundreds of residents in county jails across California waiting months or even years to be transferred to a state hospital.

According to the California Department of State Hospitals, a large percentage of residents found incapable of trial have been charged with homelessness and untreated psychosis.

A new behavioral health facility in Santa Clara County is not only necessary, but long overdue. Also, I think it shouldn’t be built near the main prison, but at our Elmwood facility. Once a normal baseline is reached, residents of this facility can become part of the recruitment and training programs available to other residents.

Additionally, every Santa Clara County resident would benefit from a new spa facility. A 2018 study showed that providing better access to mental health care programs is better-off and more cost-effective for entire communities. More psychiatric treatment will reduce violence and property crime and, in turn, could lower incarceration rates.

As a sheriff, I would of course like to run a new prison. However, I promised to be honest with the public. Santa Clara County needs a new mental health facility much more than a new prison.

I urge our politicians to reject the new prison proposal and support the alternative proposal to support a mental health facility.

Christine Nagaye is a sergeant in the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office. She is a candidate for sheriff.

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