SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California prosecutors are negotiating with Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to narrow a new law they say dangerously expands a program that allows judges to send criminal suspects to mental health treatment programs.
The law Brown signed las
t month allows judges to divert suspects to treatment and later dismiss criminal charges if the judge decides that mental illness played a significant role in the crime.
The measure is intended to reduce the backlog of suspects sent to mental hospitals because they are judged incompetent to stand trial.
State law already allows diversion programs for offenders with certain mental health problems.
The prosecutors say the new law allows the diversion of those charged with serious crimes, with few safeguards.
Supporters oppose narrowing the provisions before lawmakers adjourn at the end of August.
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