California ACLUs Announce Opposition to Prop. 1 on State Ballot, Claiming Measure Will Harm Communities

By Jonathan Nunez and Joey Lo

LOS ANGELES, CA – Multiple California American Civil Liberties Union affiliates directly oppose Proposition 1 because they claim the measure will create an imbalance in California communities, according to a statement released by Southern California American Civil Liberties Union.

According to Southern California’s statement, Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced mental health care reform (plans) to concentrate state and county mental health care funds with substance use disorders or severe mental illness.

However, Prop. 1, said the ACLU, hurts California communities because it “would amend the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) and change the rules about how the existing stream of MHSA funding — around $4 billion per year — is allocated.”

The ACLU describes MHSA as a community-based service that’s already stretched too thin.

In fact, the ACLU acknowledges numerous counties have utilized the services of MHSA to provide free and accessible safety-net services to their most poor and vulnerable residents, noting, “the changes will likely result in a reduction in community-based, culturally responsive mental health services and critical programs like non-police mental health crisis response.”

Carmen-Nicole Cox, a director of government affairs at ACLU California Action, said, “Health care and housing are human rights. California’s mental health and housing systems need reform, but the numbers show Prop. 1 is not likely to have any long-term effect in addressing California’s houselessness crisis, improving mental health systems, or helping alleviate mass incarceration.”

Cox said the newly proposed Prop. 1 will cause more harm than good, asserting that “Prop. 1’s changes to the Mental Health Services Act would force mental health, housing, and substance use disorder programs to compete for funding, and the $6.4 billion of debt it would impose on California would primarily fund forced treatment and institutionalization – not the community-based mental health services and housing Californians desperately need.”

These treatment settings funded by Prop. 1 include residential facilities with restricted access, as well as inpatient beds, which would separate individuals from their communities and infringe upon their civil rights.

Eve Garrow, ACLU SoCal’s Dignity for All Project’s senior policy analyst, added, “Though touted as a solution to houselessness, Prop. 1 is only projected to provide housing for 6,000 persons – while a separate, upcoming housing measure with a similar price tag would provide 20 times that amount. Prop. 1 would reduce already-strapped community-based and culturally responsive mental health services and thwart efforts to minimize contact with law enforcement and legal systems for people in mental health crisis.”

About The Author

Jonathan is a fourth year UC Davis student pursuing a major in English and a minor in Professional Writing and African American Studies. By working alongside the Vanguard Court Watch, Jonathan not only hopes to deepen his passion for criminal justice, but he also wishes to deepen the connection he has with his community through his writing. In his free time, Jonathan enjoys hanging out with his friends and making short stories about the world around him.

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