Secretary Scott Kernan Recognizes LA County DA and local leaders with COMIO Best Practices Award

By Albert Rivas, Deputy Chief
Office of External Affairs

The Council on Mentally Ill Offenders (COMIO) recognized Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s Office and the Los Angeles County Mental Health Advisory Board with a COMIO Best Practices Award for the Blueprint for Change. The Blueprint for Change is an implementation plan for a comprehensive system of diversion from incarceration for youth and adults with mental illness.

Secretary Scott Kernan of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation awarded Lacey’s office with the distinguished COMIO Best Practices Award. Kernan serves as COMIO Chairman.

Secretary Scott Kernan and Tracey Whitney, Deputy District Attorney

“Los Angeles County staff work hard to make a difference. Through their dedication the Blueprint for Change has led to measurable success, and through effective collaboration has made a positive impact on those living with mental illness,” said Secretary Scott Kernan when presenting the award.
Stephanie Welch, COMIO’s Executive Officer, and board members help recognize county agencies and community-based organizations that support behavioral health services as they work to reduce unnecessary incarceration of people living with mental health challenges.

Stephanie Welch, Executive Officer

“Incarceration is one of the worst outcomes of untreated mental illness. I applaud District Attorney Lacey’s office and all of the leaders in Los Angeles County for their hard work and commitment to tackle such challenging social problems,” said Stephanie Welch. “I’m confident that with the implementation of the sequential intercept model supported by innovative services, significant strides in preventing youth and adult incarceration will be achieved.”
The Office of Diversion and Reentry was created by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to provide long-term oversight and coordination support. In addition to the county’s initial investment of $120 million, at least $10 million in annual funding will be provided to the office. A substantial portion of these funds will come from the reallocation of money from two public safety-related state laws, SB 678 and AB 109.
The funds will divert low-risk offenders with serious mental illness and substance abuse disorders from incarceration by providing services and expertise in housing, health, mental health, alcohol and drug prevention, and legal assistance. Former Judge Peter Espinoza will serve as the new director.
For information about the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, please contact the Office of External Affairs at (916) 445-4950 or OEA.