SACRAMENTO – The California State Legislature has approved Assembly Bill 935 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) to require the California juvenile justice system to better serve youth suffering with mental illness by providing juveniles the same protections that adults have in competency proceedings.
“Current competency procedures for juveniles neither improves public safety nor serves the youth in need of help,” said Stone. “This measure is necessary to improve the outcomes of juveniles and ensure that they aren’t languishing in juvenile halls when they should be receiving mental health services.”
When adults are found incompetent, there is clear, prescriptive law in California that outlines the process and procedures of “remediation.” Adults receive needed mental health services to determine if their competency can be restored. If competency cannot be restored, instead of going through conventional trials, they are found placements that balance public safety with the needs and services required for those who have mental or developmental health needs.
In order to ensure that juveniles receive the same appropriate care that adults receive, AB 935 establishes clear timelines and processes for the determination of juvenile competency in court proceedings and in the evaluation and delivery of remediation services. The measure clearly lays out who must provide the mental health treatment for remediation and puts a cap on the length of time that youth can stay in juvenile halls, which can be inappropriate placements for longer-term mental health services.
“This legislation will be a huge step forward for youth with mental health needs in California's juvenile justice system. There is no reason for youth with mental illness to linger in our juvenile halls who would be much better served by receiving mental health treatment in a setting appropriate and specific to the needs of the youth,” said Mary Butler, President of the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC), which sponsors the measure.
The bill now goes to the Governor’s desk.
For more information: Arianna Smith