Penalties increased for contraband at state mental hospitals

It’s now a misdemeanor for visitors to provide contraband, such as tobacco, currency and wireless communication devices to patients at the state’s mental hospitals, including Atascadero State Hospital.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill to increase safety at the facilities, the state announced Wednesday.

The law, written by Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, fines smugglers up to $1,000 for each prohibited item.

The worry is that these items could fall into the hands of mental patients and become incentives to commit violent acts inside the facilities.

Assembly members Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, and David Valadao, R-Hanford, co-wrote the bill, titled SB 796. It was first introduced in February.

To read it, visit the state’s legislative information website at http://leginfo.ca.gov/bilinfo.html.