December 10, 2023

Marin County plans to develop a program that enables drugs to be administered to jail inmates towards their will.

Final fall, the Board of Supervisors allowed court-ordered drugs to be given to inmates who’ve been deemed incompetent to face trial — with out their consent, if needed. Previous to the authorization, inmates needed to stay in jail for months till a mattress turned accessible at a state hospital.

Involuntary remedy has been allowed for the reason that passage of Senate Invoice 568 in 2007. When Marin supervisors gave their approval, a number of different Northern California counties — Contra Costa, Sonoma, Solano and Napa — had been already making use of the legislation.

On Tuesday, the supervisors acquired a report from Behavioral Well being and Restoration Companies, a division of the Marin County Division of Well being and Human Companies, on how the primary yr of implementation has gone. Michelle Funez Arteaga, a division director, briefed supervisors on plans to develop this system past inmates who’ve been judged incompetent to face trial.

Arteaga stated state legislation permits the county to present drugs to inmates in two extra conditions. One is when a psychiatrist or psychologist has decided that the inmate is gravely disabled from a psychological dysfunction or is a hazard to self or others. The Marin County Public Defender’s Workplace represents inmates in authorized proceedings when authorities search a court docket order for the involuntary administration of medicines.

The opposite occasion is when the inmate has been legally “conserved.” A psychological well being conservatorship offers authorized authority to at least one grownup to make sure choices for a critically mentally ailing individual. In these circumstances, the remedy can be given on the request of the affected person’s conservator.

“We wished to start out with the incompetent to face trial,” Arteaga stated. “However now that issues have been going effectively, we plan to develop to those different populations after they’re in jail.”

Arteaga stated that throughout the first yr of implementation, fewer than 10 inmates got drugs towards their will. Arteaga stated she couldn’t give the precise quantity as a result of the Marin County Division of Well being and Human Companies has a coverage of not releasing inhabitants numbers underneath 10 so as to shield the anonymity of members of the group.

Supervisor Katie Rice requested Arteaga what number of extra inmates are prone to be medicated involuntarily with the growth of this system.

Arteaga stated that of the three classes, the group deemed incompetent to face trial was the biggest.

“Whereas I don’t have an estimate for these different two populations, they are going to be even smaller,” she stated. “We might go a whole yr and never have one individual come into jail who will fall underneath the conservatorship class.”

Arteaga stated that for the reason that program started, no inmate or workers member has been injured throughout the administration of medicines.

“After we began the dialog round involuntary remedy, some folks had been involved that it’d result in accidents,” Arteaga stated. “We got here to see that it’s truly safer.”

Arteaga stated the entire inmates who had been initially given drugs towards their will consented inside one to a few administrations.

If inmates are deemed competent after receiving remedy, they will then stand trial or in some circumstances qualify for a psychological well being diversion program.

AB 1810, which was signed into legislation in July 2018, licensed pre-trial diversion applications for crime suspects with sure psychological issues. To be eligible, nevertheless, inmates should have considered one of three diagnoses: schizophrenia, schizoaffective dysfunction or bipolar dysfunction.

Medicines are ordered by a licensed psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. They’re administered by a registered nurse or different licensed medical skilled with assistance from jail officers.

“I’m positive it’s traumatic for the person,” Rice stated, “however I’m simply questioning in regards to the influence on you as human beings on the workers stage.”

Arteaga stated, “I feel that it was extra traumatic to see folks incarcerated and untreated for months on finish and never having any instruments to have the ability to assist them.”