In the wake of continued troubles for the Los Angeles County Jail system, the Board of Supervisors approved a plan that would move at least 1,000 mentally ill offenders out of current lockups and into a new facility focused on treating the mentally ill.  This plan begins as the criticism over how the county handles the mentally ill and substance abuse inmates who make up 20% of the total jail population.

This new approach, sought out by, among others, County District Attorney Jackie Lacey, would move mentally ill people out of jail and into treatment programs with the hope of reducing recidivism.  The hallmark of this plan would be the new 3,885 bed jail in downtown which would replace the old and troubled Men’s Central Jail.  The plan would be to move many of the mentally ill housed in the Twin Towers facility over to this new mental health facility and move those general population inmates in Men’s Central over to Twin Towers.  Twin Towers was originally set up to house the general population inmates and not specifically for the mentally ill.

The new jail will take between six to eight years to build and, as opposed to the traditional cells with metal bars lined up in narrow rows, the new living areas will have more open space and be easier for guards to monitor.

Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said her plan for the jail focused on putting more offenders into treatment rather than behind bars.

While this plan just recently won Board of Supervisor approval and is sure to face some obstacles, it signals a shift in local law enforcement priorities to provide treatment for the mentally ill and those with substance abuse problems as opposed to housing them in cells.  It is also yet to be seen how getting to this new facility will play out in the court system and whether or not there will be hurdles to clear in order to become “eligible” to serve time in the mental health/substance abuse facility.

If you or someone you know has been arrested, charged with or is being investigation for a crime, contact attorney Ross Erlich as soon as possible.  Attorney Ross Erlich has extensive experience representing clients with both mental health and substance abuse problems.  This representation usually involves assisting the client in inpatient or outpatient treatment facilities, mental health counseling, self-help resources and pre-filing work done to open the channels of communication between us and the prosecutor’f office before any crime is charged.

Contact our office for a free consultation today.

Federal prosecutors are no longer going to seek “mandatory minimum” sentences for many low-level and nonviolent drug offenders.  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder plans to announce this major shift in the United States criminal drug offender policy today.

Holder cites the years of explosive growth in the federal prison population and the ballooning costs associated with this increase in incarceration.  Holder further stated that too many people go to too many prisons for too long, and, a lot of times, for “no good law enforcement reason.”

Under Holder’s new policy, prosecutors would send fewer drug offenders to federal prison for long terms and send an increasing number of these offenders to drug treatment and community service programs instead.  This change in policy also addresses a long-standing goal of civil rights groups who say that long prison sentences disproportionately hurt low-income and minorities.

The “war on drugs” that started in the 1980s brought about strict federal laws that required judges to impose long prison sentences on anyone caught with certain amounts of illegal drugs, regardless of the circumstances.  The public’s demand for these long sentences has decreased recently as stories of unfairness and skyrocketing costs have become more apparent.

In other words, drug offenses look to be much more manageable in the near future.  With the policy shifting on federal drug offenses, local offenders will also likely see more non-custody options associated with disposing of their case such as Deferred Entry of Judgement (DEJ), PC 1000, and Proposition 36.  With the help of a skilled and knowledgeable attorney, many of these options can be made available to you and, if needed, effective substance abuse programs and rehabilitation.

If you have been charged with drug possession, drug transportation, possession for sale or with the intent to sell, contact attorney Ross Erlich before you go to court and before you make any statements to law enforcement.  It is important to have a skilled attorney help you in the Airport court, CCB, Downtown Courts, Pasadena Court and all Los Angeles County courts.

Rapper “2 Chainz” was arrested on Tuesday at LAX, according to reports.  In fact, he was actually taken off a plane waiting to depart the airport after a TSA search of checked baggage showed the presence of marijuana and promethazine.

Reports state that the marijuana was less than 1 ounce, a misdemeanor, while the possession of promethazine got Chainz a felony narcotics possession charge.  Promethazine is commonly mixed with codeine and juice or soda to create a very intoxicating drink known as “sizzurp” in the hip-hop community.

2 Chainz will likely be booked and then released on bond and given a date to appear at the Airport Courthouse for the felony and misdemeanor drug possession charges.  While having a felony drug possession charge against you is serious and something that should not be taken lightly, there are favorable ways to resolve these cases which may even involve a dismissal of the charges.

If you have been charged with felony drug possession in California, you are most likely eligible for Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) or what attorneys refer to as PC 1000 (California Penal Code section 1000).  There are certain requirements that must be met before someone is eligible for DEJ.  First of all, the charged violation must be for simple drug possession only and not for possession for sales or transportation and the crime must not involve any violence or threatened violence.  Secondly, you must not have had any prior drug-related convictions, had you parole revoked without successfully completing your terms and conditions, completed DEJ in another case within 5 years of your current charges and you must not have had any felony convictions in the 5 years preceding the current charge.

If all of these elements are met and you are eligible for DEJ, you can enter a plea of guilty to the charges and have your criminal proceedings suspended for, typically, 18 months.  During this 18 month time period, you must enroll and successfully complete a county-approved PC 1000 class, which is typically 20 hours of drug education to be completed within the first 6 months.  After completion of the DEJ class, the court gives you the remaining 12 months to stay out of trouble and not suffer any new arrests, after which time your plea of guilty is withdrawn, a plea of not guilty is entered, and your case is then dismissed.

If you have been charged with drug possession, possession for sales, transportation or manufacturing, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.  A lot of times law enforcement is looking to catch the “bigger fish” and can put unfair pressure on you to talk and make incriminating statements.  Do yourself a favor and tell law enforcement to talk to your lawyer and that you have nothing to say to them.

Attorney Ross Erlich handles drug-related charges in the Airport Court, CCB (Criminal Courts Building), East Los Angeles, Pasadena and all over Southern California.  If you have been arrested on drug charges in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Beverly Hills or LAX, contact our office today.


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