Support for AB 1056 — Second Chance Program

housing_california.jpgInterfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP) has endorsed AB 1056. We are pleased to support AB 1056, which would require the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) to establish and implement a program that focuses on community-based solutions for reducing recidivism. The bill would establish minimum criteria for the program and would require the board to establish an Executive Steering Committee, composed of 11 members, as specified, to develop guidelines for the administration of the program. 

It would create the Second Chance Fund in the State Treasury with the 65% of the funds deposited into the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools fund that are allocated to the Board of State and Community Corrections. The Second Chance Fund would support the programs established and implemented by the above described recidivism reduction program. The program guidelines would strongly prioritize projects that provide mental health services, substance use disorder treatment services or misdemeanor diversion programs, and that provide housing related assistance.

Housing is one of the most persistent challenges for individuals with serious mental illness, and must be addressed by the State in order to provide full opportunity for treatment and recovery. According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, approximately 40% of the homeless population has a serious mental illness or substance use disorder, including youth, families and veterans.

Individuals who are homeless are more likely to have contact with law enforcement, particularly concerning minor offenses resulting from the condition of homelessness, than individuals who have a place to live. In fact, one of out of every six incarcerations involves an individual who was homeless at the time of arrest (McNiel, Binder, & Robinson, 2005). This is compounded by the fact that those who are incarcerated are likely to lack a place to live upon release from jail or prison, creating a revolving door of homelessness and incarceration.

Individuals living with mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal justice system due to myriad factors, including but not limited to homelessness. Ensuring that these individuals have a place to live in order to prevent both initial contact with law enforcement, and subsequent contact with law enforcement upon release from jail or prison is a crucial piece of treatment and recovery.

ICUJP supports creating housing for individuals with mental illness that provides not only accessible shelter, but additionally the supports necessary for success. These include clinical services, care coordination, peer support, employment training, education, and outreach. We believe that supportive housing for individuals with mental illness is essential the treatment plan for these individuals, and to the health care system of California. We support AB 1056’s effort to provide such support for previously incarcerated individuals, and are particularly enthusiastic about the individualized nature of the housing provided.

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