Supervisors expected to take up Pitchess transfer


The County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to authorize $5.6 million to contract out services for mentally ill inmates who would be transferred from the Twins Towers jail in downtown L.A. to the Pitchess Detention Center’s North facility in Castaic.

The matter – which was postponed two weeks ago after the Castaic Area Town Council raised concerns over the transfer of the prisoners – is on the supervisors’ consent calendar, considered routine pieces of business that typically pass.

The contract, through November 2018, would be awarded to Liberty Healthcare.

Under the plan, 320 mentally ill inmates currently housed in downtown L.A. would be moved Pitchess North in groups of 80. It’s part of an overall improvement plan for mental-health care for county inmates.

The matter was originally on the supervisors’ agenda for Sept. 20, but was tabled at the request of the Castaic council, which had expressed concern over the possibility of increased danger to area residents from the influx of new inmates.

But during its regular meeting on Sept. 21, the council received reassurances from county officials that no such dangers would be posed.

Lt. Dave Rush, acting captain of Pitchess North, told council members that night that all of the inmates would be considered in the medium-security range, with none classified as sexually violent predators.

Tim Belavich, a clinical psychologist from the county Department of Health Service’s Division of Correctional Health Care Services, also told the council, “These are the healthiest of our inmates in terms of their being introduced to the mental-health process.’’

“I trust you guys,” Council member Jim Idleman told the county officials – echoing the general sentiments members after a Q-and-A session.

The council does not have the authority to approve or deny the transfer of the prisoners, and was acting more as an information vehicle to residents.

The inmates who would be transferred are already getting mental-health treatment at the Twin Towers, but Belavich said Pitchess North would provide a more spacious setting, better conducive to treatment.

“The physical setting contributes to their getting better,” Belavich told The Signal.

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