Calif. mental health coverage cut blasted

May 25, 2010 at 8:30 PM

LOS ANGELES, May 25 (UPI) -- Cuts in community mental health services will lead to California spending the savings, and more, on jails, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said Tuesday.

Baca criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Los Angeles Times reported. He said preventative care in community clinics can keep many mentally ill people off the streets.

"Los Angeles County jails are already the largest mental health provider in the country," Baca said. "The timing of these cuts could not come at a worse time."

Schwarzenegger's budget, if it becomes law, will eliminate about $600 million in aid to community mental health. The cut could cost even more money in federal matching funds.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued California, charging that only half the jail inmates who need mental health treatment receive it.

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