Mental health becomes key in corrections budget

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Democrats in the Legislature want the state corrections budget to spend more on mental health services as a way to improve treatment and increase rehabilitation options.

They are making their case as lawmakers have just days to craft a budget deal, but the outcome is far from certain.

Gov. Jerry Brown and county sheriffs, for example, want $500 million in bond money to expand jails so they can adequately house the thousands of new inmates counties are receiving under the governor's three-year-old realignment law, which diverts lower-level offenders from state prisons.

Senate Democrats seek to broaden how that money can be used. They want to give county boards of supervisors the ability to spend it on mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities, transitional housing or other jail alternatives.

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