District Attorney Dan Dow argues that the abuses of the mentally ill at the SLO County Jail are not his responsibility. While I agree that Dow should not mount an investigation into civil rights abuses by the Sheriff’s Office until the FBI finishes its investigation, he should look into the way his department charges the mentally ill.
Without the District Attorney’s Office prosecuting mentally ill people who are having a mental health crisis, these people would not end up in our jail in the first place. The District Attorney’s Office determines charges, not law enforcement.
San Francisco County has a policy of not arresting or charging mentally ill people who appear to be in crisis for most misdemeanors. Instead, they are sent to a mental health facility. The benefits are twofold — mentally ill people do not spiral downhill as they sit in a jail cell and the community is not funding the costly incarceration of a mentally ill person.
But in SLO County, several law enforcement agencies appear to regularly arrest mentally ill people for resisting arrest. Working with law enforcement, to what I believe is the detriment of our county, the district attorney then files charges.
It is time for a change. Vote for Judge Mike Cummins for DA.
Missy Awbrey, San Luis Obispo