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Bill Stops State Hospital Patients With Violent Criminal History From Being Released Without Supervision

For immediate release:
  • Nate Allbee
  • (415) 756-0561

SACRAMENTO, CA – In response to a violent stabbing that occurred in San Francisco's Chinatown, Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) announced AB 2475 — a bill that stops people who have committed violent crimes and have been diagnosed with a severe mental disorder from being released into the community without proper supervision and treatment. The bill allows state hospitals to hold patients for up to 30 additional days before they are released, to allow law enforcement and public health officials to work together to find housing, medication access, and mental health treatment.

The San Francisco Chronicle recently reported how an offender with a mental health disorder who spent seven years in custody for stabbing an employee in 2016 at a Chinatown bakery was released from a state hospital without an adequate mental health and community safety plan. The offender required medication to stay in remission from psychosis and was released in May 2023 and placed in a single-room occupancy hotel without supervision. Exactly one week later he returned to the Chinatown bakery where he committed his previous crime and stabbed another employee in the back of the neck leaving her hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

“If a person is being held in custody because their mental illness led them to commit a violent crime, the state has an absolute obligation and responsibility to make sure that they aren't released without ensuring adequate support, planning and treatment,” said Haney. “Five days to plan for someone's release is dangerously short, it sets them up to fail and puts everyone at risk.”

Current law allows an inmate to be paroled to a state hospital if their mental health disorder continues to pose a serious threat to the safety of themselves or others. If at any point a judge determines that the person no longer meets this criteria, the Department of State Hospitals, State Parole, and local agencies have only five planning days before being required to release the person back into the community.

According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in the six years between 2018 and 2023–1,656 people were released from a state hospital. In all of those cases, the Department of State Hospitals, State Parole, and local agencies were only given five days before the release of the individual to coordinate the appropriate housing, supervision, medication, and mental health services, prior to a parolee being released and placed back in the community.

“It is incredibly important that people discharging from a state hospital receive support as they return to the community,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed, whose office sponsored the bill. “Five days is way too quick to develop a thorough discharge plan—we must give providers, family members, and individuals the time they need to come up with a plan that promotes a safe transition.”

Mental health experts agree that it is unrealistic to expect the many agencies involved in an offender's release to coordinate safely on an extremely short timeline. AB 2475 allows all parties involved to request an extension from the court to safely plan their release, up to 30 additional days.

“The state’s current laws are setting people up for failure,” said Haney. “Without the proper care, treatment and supervision, there is a significant risk that these offenders spiral into old patterns of violence and become a serious threat to themselves or others. This bill will help to protect public safety and better ensure that people get essential ongoing treatment when released.”

AB 2475 is sponsored by the City and County of San Francisco. It will be heard in the Assembly Committee on Public Safety in the upcoming weeks.