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Grand Jury: Sacramento County's Mental Health Cuts Tax Law Enforcement, Hospitals

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento's County decision to cut a vital mental health tool five years ago has put a significant strain on both law enforcement and hospitals, according to a grand jury report released on Thursday.

The cost of treating patients has weighed heavily on the county since the closure of its Crisis Stabilization Unit in 2009, the report states. What was supposed to save the county, the grand jury argues has instead overwhelmed both law enforcement and local hospitals.

READ: 2014-2015 Sacramento County Grand Jury Report

This isn't the first time a Sacramento County grand jury has pointed to these cuts as a negative for the county. The 2010 grand jury report also found issues with the cuts and the impact it was having on health and law enforcement services.

But in the years since those cuts, the problem has only worsened. In 2014, the grand jury reports only 16 percent of patients at the intake stabilization unit were first-time admissions, painting the picture of a revolving door of patients with mental disorders.

The grand jury recommends the county re-evaluates the cuts and considers using available grant funds to establish in less costly systems that focus on treatment rather than tying up law enforcement and community hospital resources.

The report also points to a fractured relationship between hospitals and law enforcement after the cuts. Both sides saw the closures as abrupt with little time to plan for the influx of mental-health patients. Hospitals say emergency rooms weren't prepared for the onslaught of patients, calling the county's actions "irresponsible" and "non-responsive."

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