Three-quarters of eligible offenders decline program; Gov. Newsom suggests mandated treatment for addicts, mentally ill
The drug diversion program in the city of Los Angeles is not making any progress due to lack of interest, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The program, offered as an alternative to incarceration, is having little success as only 17 of the 283 eligible people have completed the program, said the May 20 story.
The program is designated for non-violent offenders, such as petty theft, drug possession, and the mentally ill, reported the newspaper.
“The individuals who are brought in believe they will be released very quickly, which they are. The court’s zero-bail practice is wreaking havoc on this program,” said LAPD Deputy Chief Kris Pritcher.
He oversees the program and stated the program has been “largely hampered” by policies put in place by court officials and District Attorney George Gascon.
Advocates say people who are suffering from mental illness and drug addiction believe the program requires too much time.
People with misdemeanor convictions must agree to stay in the program for 90 days, and those who are charged with a felony must agree to stay in it for 180 days.
Some may decline because of their job, childcare issues, and worries that the treatment will not be culturally sensitive, noted the Times.
Almost 75 percent of the 283 people eligible for the program did not want to participate since the program was launched by the Los Angeles Police Department in 2021, noted the article.
The unwillingness of adults to involve themselves with drug diversion program when facing criminal charges shows a larger problem that public officials have when looking for solutions, the article stated.
The District Attorney’s Office and the LAPD can track participants’ progress and still file criminal charges if participants do not adhere to program’s requirements, according to the article.
Gov. Gavin Newsom suggested a plan to allow the court to compel people with serious mental illness and addiction to receive treatment, said the report.
Others saw the proposal as extreme overreach to force the sick and addicted into treatment.
Some observers that maintain better ways to help people out of crises would be offering more attractive services, instead of waiting on them to commit crimes, according to the Times.
The success of treatment “always depends on whether, from the point of view of the person involved, the alternative is better,” said Gary Blasi, a professor at UCLA law school.