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The Los Angeles County Office of Diversion and Re-entry has been awarded a $20 million grant from the California Board of State and Community Corrections to reduce recidivism and fund rehabilitative programs for justice-involved individuals with a history of mental health issues or substance use disorders. 

L.A. County was one of 23 applicants statewide awarded funding from voter-approved Proposition 47, which reduced from felonies to misdemeanors certain low-level crimes. The measure, passed in 2014, also provides that state savings be used to fund rehabilitative programs.

The funding will enable the county to expand recovery bridge housing, enhance access to mental health services and substance abuse treatment and develop new reentry-focused intensive case management, housing and wrap-around services to improve health and employment outcomes and reduce recidivism.

“We look forward to investing in community programs to keep people from cycling through the justice system,” said Peter Espinoza, director of the L.A. County Office of Diversion and Re-entry. “Though partnerships with community based providers and other government agencies, we will connect clients to the services, treatment, and case management they need to rebuild their lives.” 

More than 90 percent of the funding will be distributed to community service providers, with the remaining 10 percent dedicated to evaluation of programmatic outcomes and administrative costs. In preparation for the grant submission, the Office of Diversion and Re-entry, in partnership with the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Re-entry, convened more than 100 community-based organizations to discuss program needs and identify service gaps that could be addressed with funding.

"With the support and guidance of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the office of Diversion and Reentry took another enormous step, with our successful funding application, to creating a countywide system that seeks to treat, support and house clients with substance use and mental health challenges who have historically been caught and often trapped in the criminal justice system,” said Mark Ghaly, MD, director of community health and integrated programs for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS). “The building blocks for a large scale, thoughtful diversion and reentry strategy for Los Angeles County continues to come together.”

Ghaly said the County's strategy with Prop 47 funding will allow a number of community-based providers and organizations to directly provide services in a coherent, comprehensive, responsive and client-focused manner.

The proposed Proposition 47 program will encompass a "no wrong door" approach to ensure that persons seeking help will find culturally and linguistically appropriate services. The grant cycle begins June 16, 2017 and ends August 15, 2020.