The LA Times reports on the slow implementation of AB 1810 in San Diego County, in part due to resistance from prosecutors. The mental health diversion law, AB 1810, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last June 27, is intended to steer people with mental health conditions into treatment and away from jail or prison. It gives judges discretion to order defendants into a pretrial diversion program for treatment instead of prosecution. If the person’s mental health treatment is ultimately deemed successful — the diversion can last up to two years — then all charges will be dropped. If at any time the judge determines the treatment isn’t working, the criminal case can start again.
In San Diego, only 2 defendants out of 19 – in cases ranging from residential burglary to vandalism – have been granted diversion. San Diego prosecutors have opposed pretrial mental health diversion in every case, contending the law is unconstitutional on a variety of grounds, including that it is too vague and violates victims’ constitutional rights. In court papers in each case, the prosecutors call the law “a dangerous change to the manner in which criminals with mental health diagnoses” are treated in the criminal justice system. And they also argue that defendants may have a qualifying mental disorder but lack a specific plan for treatment — which should disqualify them from diversion.