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California voters strongly support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to set up a new court system for people struggling with a combination of severe mental illness, homelessness and substance use, but split with the governor on requiring children to attend kindergarten, a new poll shows.
Newsom introduced his sweeping Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Court proposal earlier this year amid increasing concern over the number of people living in crisis on California’s streets. Legislation to codify CARE Court, Senate Bill 1338, easily passed the Legislature with bipartisan support, and Newsom signed the measure into law last month.
Civil and disability rights groups spent the majority of the legislative session in fervent opposition to CARE Court over concerns the new law could criminalize homelessness and lead to mentally ill people being coerced into treatment.
Despite those fears, voters expressed overwhelming support for the new law, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times. The poll asked voters if they supported the plan that would “provide court-ordered treatment for Californians struggling with severe mental illness including those who are homeless” and noted that “the CARE Court would have the authority to order mental health treatment for people with severe mental illnesses even if they did not seek it.”