By Emily Hoeven
Now the hard work begins.
So said Gov. Gavin Newsom at a Wednesday bill signing ceremony in San Jose about legislation he says is key to addressing one of California’s most glaring failures: The sheer number of people suffering from untreated mental illness living on our streets.
Newsom’s office first rolled out his Community Assistance, Recovery, and Empowerment (CARE) Court proposal in March. This new court system would make it easier for loved ones, first responders and mental health workers to force severely mentally ill Californians into psychiatric treatment and housing.
- Newsom: “We get a moment in time, but this might live on, if we make it real. And that’s the hard work of the next year.”
The hard work that the governor was alluding to is the fact that California’s 58 counties now have to actually set up these new systems before 2025 — with seven counties rolling out the programs within the next year.
But alongside implementation and application, there’s almost certain to be litigation. Though the CARE Court bill sailed through both chambers of the Legislature and has been welcomed by at least some families of mentally ill, homeless Californians, it’s fiercely opposed by many civil liberties and human rights groups. They warn the new policy will take us back to the bad old days before the 1970s when California’s population of “mentally disordered persons” were often indefinitely and involuntarily shuttered away in state hospitals.
- Southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union: “We expect to see legal challenges to stop this misguided plan.”
The governor seemed to have a rejoinder for the ACLU — or at least, similarly named organizations — on Wednesday.
- Newsom: “It’s one thing to receive an opposition letter from, you know, four-letter groups that have been out there for 30, 40 years, understandably, holding hands talking about the way the world should be…And it’s another to say, ‘Well, that’s wonderful, but what about my damn daughter? What are you gonna do for her?’”