California’s Controversial Mental Health Courts for the Homeless

mental health courts
Gov. Gavin Newsom

Plus: The Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit nears, and Ball State unveils plans for an SUD center

By William Wagner

New & Next: Community

A Ruckus Over Gov. Newsom’s Proposed Mental Health Courts

California governor Gavin Newsom recently introduced a plan to create mental health courts in every county in the state for homeless people suffering from addiction and/or mood disorders. Newsom reasons that the courts will provide a way for the homeless to receive therapy, medication and housing before the criminal justice system intervenes.

However, advocates for the homeless counter that requiring people to undergo care against their will is a violation of civil rights. The plan, they point out, calls for individuals in mental health courts to accept treatment or potentially face criminal charges.

Newsom’s response to critics of the program during a press conference at a mental health treatment center in San Jose on March 3? “There’s no compassion [in] stepping over people in the streets and sidewalks. We could hold hands, have a candlelight vigil [and] talk about the way the world should be, or we could take some damn responsibility to implement our ideas, and that’s what we’re doing differently here.”

If the plan is enacted, it could have far-reaching implications. Said Newsom at the San Jose press conference, “This is a completely new strategy.”

New & Next: Conferences

Register for the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

There’s still time to sign up for the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, which is scheduled for April 18-21 in Atlanta. The annual event takes on special importance this year, as overdose deaths have reached record highs. As the website for the summit states, “The comeback must be greater than the setback.”

This year’s agenda covers seemingly every aspect of prevention and treatment, with presentations ranging from the benefits of harm reduction to a rundown of what you need to know about counterfeit pills. In addition, numerous addiction treatment centers and organizations will have booths set up. Go here for registration information.

New & Next: Career Moves

Stacy Linn

Stacy Linn, Thomas J. Jameson Assume New Posts

Stacy Linn, LMHC, MCAP, ICADC, was named clinical director of Level Up, an addiction treatment center in Lakeland, Fla. Among her previous jobs, Linn was clinical director of URP Detox in Riviera Beach, Fla. … The Ohana, a luxury residential addiction treatment center in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, hired Thomas J. Jameson as its clinical director. Jameson’s areas of expertise include couples, family and substance use disorder (SUD) counseling.

New & Next: Education

Ball State’s New SUD Center

Earlier this month, Ball State University in Indiana announced its plans to establish the Center for Substance Use Research and Community Initiatives (SURCI). Operating within the university’s College of Health, SURCI will serve as a hub for research, training and treatment.

“Ball State’s College of Health continues to move boldly forward in making interprofessional education, practice and research its paradigm across each of its disciplines. The formation of the Center for Substance Use Research and Community Initiatives is the latest example of this focus,” said Scott Rutledge, PhD, dean of the College of Health. “SURCI strives to become a national model for addressing addictions issues in local communities, and we are committed to continue working hand-in-hand with our community partners to expand and enhance these critical services across the state of Indiana.”

Top photo: Shutterstock