You need look no further than the Michael Hogan tragedy to see the need for a mental health/wellness center to be constructed in lieu of a new jail facility in Santa Clara County. I wholeheartedly agree with Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, who expressed her misgivings about the document county executive staff recently submitted to the Board of Supervisors.

The report, which advocated a new 535-bed facility to replace the Main Jail South is a slap in the face to community groups and civil rights advocates who met with elected officials just last year to promote a treatment center for people with mental health issues and those who struggle with alcohol and drug use disorders.

Tackling the problem of recidivism is one of the main tenants in my campaign for sheriff. Our jails need to be about more than housing people for a period of time and then sending them back to the same situation. We need social workers and counseling available to inmates, as well as education and job placement opportunities. Mental health is a key part of this. We need to establish and fund a program that links law enforcement and social and medical services.

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