Many of the people routinely incarcerated in Santa Barbara County's jails are there because of mental illness or substance abuse problems.
A new $6 million, three-year long grant announced last week will attempt to fix that problem.
The state money set aside by Prop 47 is aimed toward getting people who are mentally ill out of the prison system, through development of a crisis intervention team, providing housing assistance, and paying for a sobering center.
“This incredible number of people who end up in jail, who are battling with mental illness or substance abuse disorder, really desperately need treatment," says Barney Melekian, Assistant County Executive Officer overseeing public safety. "But now, the only thing that happens is they go to jail.”
Melekian hopes that when the initial funding expires in 3 years, the support system will be able to integrate itself into the budget in a more permanent way.