Crime & Justice

LA County gets $20 million to give ex-cons mental health services

File: Melinda Rodriguez sits on a day bed, which prisoners sleep on due to overcrowding in the prison system.
File: Melinda Rodriguez sits on a day bed, which prisoners sleep on due to overcrowding in the prison system.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

Los Angeles County is getting $20 million from the state to help rehabilitate people getting out of jail or prison. The money will go to community-based organizations that provide mental health and substance abuse services, according to Peter Espinoza, the director of the county's Office of Diversion and Reentry.

The funds come from savings under Proposition 47, a state measure voters approved three years ago that reduced certain low-level crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, he told KPCC. That change helped reduce the prison population, he added. At least 30 percent of the state's prison population comes from L.A. County.

"I think this is a recognition that there's a great deal of work that needs to be done in Los Angeles County to have an impact on recidivism if that's going to impact that 30 percent of the state prison population," he said. 

The savings from Prop 47 are about $100 million statewide, according to Espinoza. Other cities will also get some of that money to help former criminal offenders re-enter their communities.