Hastings Women’s Law Journal


This note explores the increasing presence of the mentally ill in California county jails, specifically in the Los Angeles County Jail. particularly in the context of California's Realignment legislation. The case igniting this reform in California, Brown v. Plata alleged Eighth Amendment violations in California's prison system based on shortcomings in mental health care and medical care. The Supreme Court attributed the violations and deficiencies in care to overcrowding in the prison population. California legislators responded to the Supreme Court's prison-population reduction mandate with Assembly Bill 109 which redirects inmates to county jail. The mentally ill were largely and ironically left unmentioned in the Realignment discourse, though they were the impetus for the reform. Realignment legislation merely transfers the burden of managing mentally ill inmates from the state to California's counties. This note recommends that mentally ill persons be diverted from the corrections system and placed into community rehabilitation rather than in prison or county jail.