CDCR Sec Scott Kernan and BOSS Board Member Wed Jan 20 2016

New Possible Avenues for the Mentally Ill

A few weeks ago BOSS Board Member, Marlene Hurd, met with Scott Kernan, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Ms. Hurd is closely tied to the Council on Mentally Ill Offenders (COMIO) and is a member of the Committee. Scott Kernan pointed out that there are over 37,000 inmates in the California penal system with known mental health issues. The Secretary wants to partner with Community Based Organizations to address this need.

Too often we see that the individuals who are involved in the California Criminal Justice system aren’t “bad” people, but more often than not, they are suffering from mental illness and developmental issues. Yet, we throw them into a carceral and retributive system that is ill-equipped to address their needs. These people are the most at-risk in our communities, and when we put them into cages, we allow them to be victimized, we chuck them out into the streets and we deny them access to supportive services, we have created broken predators. This is harmful to them, to their families, to our communities, to our society.

Mental Illness
Incarcerating the Mentally Ill is cruel and exacerbates the issue. We can fix this.

But, now there is a glimmer of hope as key people and agencies begin to engage in discussions about true change in our criminal justice system. Enter the COMIO. This stronghold of invested stakeholders is Chaired by Scott Kernan, Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), and includes Pam Ahlin, the Director of the California Department of State Hospitals, and Jennifer Kent, the Director of the California Department of Health Care Systems as well as experts in the Criminal justice and mental health systems.

Finally we might see real solutions to serious issues instead of the furthering of the misery for the most at-risk individuals in our communities and families, and BOSS may help form these efforts.

For more information about the mission and efforts of this new direction, see the COMIO Fact Sheet.

(Pictured above L-R: Paula Beale, Hope Collaborative; CDCR Secretary Scott Kernan; and BOSS Board Member, Marlene Hurd.)