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Katcho scores a win with his state hospital bill

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Beginning Jan. 1, 2012, San Luis Obispo County will be able to recoup costs from local cases for some patients going through Atascadero State Hospital and other state mental hospitals.

Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian’s Assembly Bill 1016 passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously and was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 9. When it takes effect, the new law will allow SLO and other counties to recoup from the state court costs associated with mentally disordered offenders, one of five classifications of patients housed at ASH. SLO County conducts nearly 500 such cases each year, according to a news release from Achadjian’s office, but was previously left to cover the cost. The money will be used to cover cases of mentally disordered offenders who petition to be released back into the community from ASH and other hospitals.

“… The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney will have the resources he needs to keep these dangerous offenders off of our streets,” Achadjian said in the news release.

Achadjian’s legislation now joins a handful of other bills aimed at reform
of the state’s mental hospital system. Sen. Sam Blakeslee’s Senate Bill 796, which made bringing contraband into hospitals a misdemeanor, was approved on Aug. 31.

Northern California legislators have also pushed bills after Napa State Hospital psychiatric technician Donna Gross was murdered by a patient late last year. Sen. Noreen Evans’ SB 60 requires a risk evaluation for patients being committed to a state hospital. Assemblyman Michael Allen was successful in passing AB 366, which makes it easier for hospital staff to involuntarily medicate some patients.

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