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CARE courts now California law

 September 16, 2022 at 1:00 PM PDT

S1: The new care courts hope to help the mentally ill homeless. If he didn't go on his own , ask for treatment. You couldn't force it. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH with Jade Heineman. This is KPBS Midday Edition. The Bonhomme Richard arson fire heads to court in San Diego.

S2: Is the biggest fire I've ever seen in my life. A lot of sailors did a lot of hard work to try and save that ship , and unfortunately it was just too big.

S1: This weekend , the San Diego Art Prize exhibition is on display at the Central Library downtown. That's ahead on the KPBS Midday Edition. This week with Governor Newsom signature California's care court program became law. Advocates call it a first in the nation program that allows first responders and family members to ask a judge to mandate a treatment plan for severely mentally ill people who cannot care for themselves. That plan could include medication placement in supportive housing and in some cases , conservatorship. Though care courts will not be exclusively for people living on the streets , the program is aimed at addressing thousands of mentally ill homeless people. However , there are concerns that counties don't have the mental health infrastructure to support care courts and that those courts may violate people's civil liberties. Joining me is Anita Fisher , a mental health consultant in San Diego whose son deals with mental illness and has been homeless. And Anita , welcome to the program. Thank you so much , Maureen , for having me. Now , you had the chance to visit with the governor about this law. Can you tell us about that ? Yes. The governor invited family members from across the state. He wanted to hear our stories and I'm sure he did the same for the opposition as well. But he he gave us an opportunity to , you know , give our lived experience. And many of us have been at this for many years. As I said , it's been a 22 year journey for me and my son. And also I facilitate support groups and classes for NAMI San Diego. And so I'm constantly in contact with many of the family members and normally many of them , they share my story , the difficulty in getting their loved ones with severe mental illness into the type of services that they need. I'm going to ask you to share your story once again with us , if you could. You know , I know that you've dealt with the cycle the governor describes as severely mentally ill people bouncing from homelessness to jails and then back on the streets. And you've had to handle that. You had to handle that for many years. Yes , we have our son. I always say that had it not been for severe mental illness , my son would never have hit a jail or prison for any reason. You know , I raised we have two sons. We both of them the same. My other said , no , he's never had any contact with the criminal justice system. And that's the type of person my son was. And when we start to share our stories about our loved ones , we always start with who they are and who they they were before the illness impacted their life. My son was in the Army. He was a medical specialist stationed at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington , D.C. Just a wonderful , wonderful young man. This was early in life. 18 years old. He went in. And by age 21 , this is when the illness manifested. We were blindsided. We did not know anything about mental illness. It took us three years back then to find direction in how to help our son. And it was through NAMI , as I mentioned , National Alliance on Mental Illness , San Diego. And it started out with a class that we took his family members call family to family. It was a 12 week course that taught us about mental illness , what our son is going through , communication skills , problem solving. So all the tools that a family needs to support their loved one. And I know this is why we've been able to hang in there all of these times when the system did not work for our our son. So over the years , when he when the symptoms of his particular diagnosis of schizophrenia would manifest , and that would happen when he stopped his medication. So he might have two good , great years of the cycle where he worked , but when he's not on that medication , he begins to decompensated mentally. And there is no getting him , you know , because the treatment system is pretty voluntary. If he didn't go on his own , ask for treatment , you couldn't force it. And this is where the problem would come in. He'd end up on the streets , homeless. He'd begin to self-medicate with street drugs and alcohol. And that would lead to an arrest , something like stealing food or water from the store or , you know , loitering or , you know , even getting into a confrontation with someone because they're not able to make good and clear decisions. You know , during this period. And so , like I said , this is kind of been our journey back and forth over the years. How do you think your son's journey would have been different if CARE courts had been in place ? Oh , my goodness. See , we have to wait until they reach the level of a 5150. A danger to sell for others gravely disabled. Getting that treatment earlier on in the process , because it doesn't just happen that that a person wakes up , you know , one day or it's 24 hours. It's usually that they have been off of their medication in treatment for several weeks or even months. And so if we could get the treatment earlier on , they would never get to the point of the 5150. This is the part where they would start something in the beginning or go into a program. And if they decide they want to cancel it and I know that that's happened even with my son , he would be in a really good kind of wrap around program. But if he decided , Oh , I don't want to do this anymore , he leaves this sort of like , is that , you know , kind of guy to say , okay , no , you're not going to just walk away from this program because it's better for you to stay in treatment at this time. And I know that I've heard I can't remember who this quote came from when at a conference I attended and they said , you know , we're the only ones we have to wait if it's like someone with cancer that you have to wait until stage four in order to get treatment. Hopefully this will stop where we can get it at the beginning , you know , just like with any other illness. How's your son doing now ? My son is doing okay. I'll just say okay for now. He does live in an independent living association home , and that's the key word home. It is a house on a wonderful street and he has his own room and they provide the meals. And I always say if he's not in jail or prison or homeless , then he's doing okay. And I always say this , that no matter what , at the end of every call or text , he always says , I love you , Mom. And how is his dad and his brother ? You know , so he is , you know , a part of this family , as it should be. And this is why family members don't give up. I've been speaking with Anita Fisher , a mental health consultant in San Diego. Anita , thank you so much for talking with us about this. Thank you so much. Inviting me to share. A Navy arson trial is about to get underway. More than two years after fire destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard. KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh says the trial comes as the Navy continues to unravel why the fire became one of the worst peacetime disasters in Navy history.

S3: Beginning on July 12 , 2020 , the USS Bonhomme Richard burned for nearly five days in San Diego Bay.

S2: It was a horrifying was the biggest fire I've ever seen in my life. A lot of sailors did a lot of hard work to try and save that ship. And unfortunately , it was just too big. The fire was too large.

S3: Penny was off that Sunday morning. By the time he arrived at Naval Base San Diego , the ship was in flames. Penny became one of the Navy investigators on the origins of the fire. He hasn't spoken publicly about the disaster until now. The bottom , Richard , was being renovated when the fire broke out. In addition , Penny says they were shorthanded that morning.

S2: Life experience , lack of training. That coupled with the loss of electrical power on board.

S3: When then an explosion sent debris hurtling into the nearby USS Fitzgerald , commanders ordered the power to the pier cut so the ships could make an emergency exit , cutting power to firefighters. Darren Hall is with Miramar Fire Academy and a captain with the tornado fire department with 25 years experience. He says nothing compares with the Bonhomme Richard fire.

S4: Not my career. This has been the largest one I've been familiar with on the Bay in recent memory.

S3: He says local firefighters are invited to train with the Navy , though Navy reports also say mutual aid agreements with local departments are decades old. Fires on board ships are so different they aren't even part of the curriculum for beginning firefighters.

S4: The first part is it's all metal. So you're your heat that's going to be conducting through where you're walking on different floors of the ship. When you're looking for where the seat of the fire is , it could be deep inside of the ship.

S3: There are still key questions about how the Bonhomme Richard fire started. Ship fires are actually fairly common. Nonetheless , Seaman Apprentice Ryan Sawyer Mays is charged with arson and set to face a court martial later this month. His attorneys want to introduce evidence of another small fire that broke out on the nearby USS Essex that same morning. Jerry Barthel was part of Mace's legal team. He says arson can be hard to prove , especially when there's extensive damage.

S5: Mays has maintained his innocence throughout and whether whether it can be proven that it was an arson or not. I think that's one area that needs to be processed.

S3: In military court. The admiral in charge has the final word. But one reason the case has taken so long to come to trial is a hearing officer actually ruled the Navy didn't have enough evidence to convict Mays.

S5: She does not believe , based on this evidence , that the government would be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and recommended that the case not go to a general court martial.

S3: Penny , who investigated the fire , is now head of damage control on the USS Portland , a ship very similar to the USS Bonhomme Richard. Penny pushes the crew of his new ship.

S2: We do drills constantly. We train the crew constantly. I have changed the way that we do training on here. Every single sailor from the captain down to the newest sailor on board is required to don a firefighting ensemble. Our firefighting systems are maintained at the highest level possible.

S3: Penny worries that it could happen again.

S2: Every day is filled with with some type of anxiety. You know , after seeing the hour , I would be lying if I didn't say that is I am worried every moment.

S3: At least 20 officers and sailors were disciplined after the fire on the bottom Richard. Meanwhile , the Navy waits for the jury to decide what caused the fire that destroyed the billion dollar warship. Steve Walsh , KPBS News.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman with Maureen CAVANAUGH for our weekend preview. We have contemporary art , some soul dance and kickball. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. And Julia , welcome. Hi , J. Thanks for having me. So the Museum of Contemporary Art , San Diego in La Jolla is opening a new exhibition this weekend. And you've got a preview. What can you tell us about this exhibition ? Right. So this is a retrospective of influential Los Angeles artist Alexis Smith. You might know her work from the UCSD Stuart Art Collection. And she's also known for her murals and her collage work , a lot of which kind of combines the two. One of these works , it's this iconic , large scale wall painting of Marilyn Monroe wearing these sculptural sunglasses that kind of jut out from the wall. And the piece is called Men Seldom Make Passes. It's a nod to that Dorothy Parker poem. And inside the glasses are these collaged football pictures. And she has definitely resisted being pigeonholed or categorized as an artist. But she always sort of came back to this American fascination with Hollywood , with advertising and with celebrity. And I talked to the curator , Anthony Graham , and he said that she is mining these cultural objects of America and looking at how these things kind of shape how we think of ourselves and of culture.

S2: She's really looking to these ideas.

S5: Of old Hollywood.

S2: This myth.

S5: That the girl next door or the boy next door could head west , arrive in Hollywood and make it on the silver.

S2: Screen and become a star.

S5: You know , that becomes a really.

S2: Clear example for her of what she sees as a really particularly American ethos of self-invention and self-reinvention.

S1: And this exhibition just opened to the public , and it'll be on view through the end of January. That's at the Museum of Contemporary Art , San Diego , at their La Hoya campus. All right. In another big visual art exhibition opens this weekend , the San Diego Art Prize exhibition at the Central Library Art Gallery downtown. You wrote a feature on this show this week. What do you know about the art show on View ? Yeah. So the four prize winners there and how ICA Escoto , Carlos Castro , Alida Cervantes and then the duo cognate collective. And this is a showcase of their works in it artist Alida Cervantes. She has these giant , oversized paintings of the Viceroys and Latin America. They were the appointed rulers by the sovereign for each of the colonies. And she's also painted some nudity , some some gender , deconstructing elements into these portraits that kind of speaks to their power. There's also Carlos Castro , who took fragments of of monuments of statues that were recently damaged or taken down in his hometown in Columbia. There's a statue of Christopher Columbus , for example , and he's covered these fragments with really detailed beading and symbols from indigenous inka people of Colombia. And he sees this the addition of the beadwork , as it's not vandalism or defacing , but as a way of forming a connection and also acknowledging that the original monument is a piece of art , too. This is artist Carlos Castro.

S5: In this case , where they cover them with the. Beats.

S1: Beats. They are setting up the same done two stories. You're seeing the story of.

S5: The bronze statue and.

S1: You're still seeing the tales or the handcraft work.

S2: Of people , you know.

S1: Covering them. And then cognate collective has a sound installation. It's a series of pirate radio broadcasts that they started ten years ago at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. They're recording stories of migrants recently deported. And they also have a film , a separate piece , that juxtaposes clips of the border from movies and TV with actual home video footage of the border. And Angelica Escoto has some incredibly vivid photography. There's one series that documents quinceanera parties of Mexican migrants that are living in San Diego , and another series that shows the journey and the impact of American stuff like clothing and consumer goods across the border into Tijuana to be resold. It's a really great chance , this whole show , to see incredible examples of art being made by border region artists right now all in one place. That's all on view in the San Diego Downtown Library's Art Gallery beginning Saturday. Now , here's something fun. Local contemporary dance company Disco Riot is presenting curio and kickball this weekend. So will there really be kickball ? Yes , there will. So this is an extension of Disco Riot's popular curio and series. They've done it with rock climbing. They've done it with roller skating. And this weekend's is also part of the city of San Diego's park. So. Show initiative , which was designed to provide opportunities for local artists and also get art out into the city's parks. This one is in Claremont , mesa at Olive Grove Park. And Disco Riot dancers will be performing a series of new works of choreography. And in between the dances , there's going to be some games of kickball that everyone in the audience can join in on and in music. CeeLo Green is coming to the show to perform a tribute to the Godfather of Soul himself , James Brown. The tour is called Cee Lo Green as Soul Brother 100. Tell us about this show. Yeah. So this is an outdoor show at the show Sunday night at 730. And Cee Lo Green will perform a little bit of his own stuff , as well as renditions of James Brown's iconic music. And Carl Jensen's tiny universe will also perform there a funk and a groove band fronted by Carl Denson , who's also one of the founding members of Gray Boy Allstars , their local band. And I will leave you with some music from Carl Jensen's Tiny Universe from their latest album , This is Can You Feel It ? The rhythm fills tonight. All the stars.

S2: Are shining bright. And you feel it. Feel and feel. People looking all. Around.

S1: Around. All right. That's Carl Denton's tiny universe with Can You Feel It ? They'll perform alongside CeeLo Green at the show on Sunday night at 7:30 p.m.. For details on these and more arts events or to sign up for Julian's weekly newsletter , go to KPBS Mortgage Art's. I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , thanks. Thank you , Jade. Have a good weekend , Chris. Oh , yes.

California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the CARE court program into law this week. We speak with a mental health advocate with a personal connection to the issue about how CARE courts might help people like her son. Then, a Navy arson trial is about to get underway, more than two years after fire destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard. Also, for our weekend arts preview: contemporary art, some soul, dance, and kickball.