Seeking to end what they call the “Skid Row to jail cycle,” civil rights lawyers went to court on Monday to argue that new federal reforms fail to help mentally ill people get the care they need as they are released from Los Angeles County lockups.
"This case is about homelessness prevention," said attorney Mark Rosenbaum of Public Counsel. "By failing to provide needed assistance ... the County sends mentally disabled homeless people back to the streets of Skid Row."
Monday's hearing was the first in the case. Public Counsel is seeking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice against L.A. County. That case resulted in a "historic" agreement in August to provide better treatment, according to federal officials.
The provisions will "usher in a new era" for treatment of mentally ill inmates in the county's jail system, U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker said at the time. L.A. County jails house as many as 3,500 mentally ill people a day.