Offenders with a Mental Health Disorder

(formerly known as a Mentally Disordered Offender)


The Offenders with a Mental Health Disorder (OMHD) commitment was created to provide a mechanism to detain and treat inmates with a severe mental health disorder who reach the end of a determinate prison term and are dangerous to others as a result of a severe mental health disorder. The law became effective on July 1, 1986. The OMHD commitment is codified in sections 2960 to 2981 of the Penal Code (PC) and regulated in sections 2570 to 2580 of the California Code of Regulations Title 15.

OMHD is a two-phase commitment. During the first phase, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Chief Psychiatrist certifies the inmate as OMHD and the Board of Parole Hearings imposes a parole condition that the inmate serve his parole at a state hospital. The second phase continues mental health treatment after the parolee is discharged from parole, which involves a civil commitment for involuntary treatment.

Current law mandates the Board to order an inmate who meets the OMHD criteria to receive mental health treatment provided by the Department of State Hospitals (DSH) by imposing a special condition of parole. Mental health treatment is mandated to be inpatient until the DSH certifies to the Board that the parolee can be treated as an outpatient.

A parolee with severe mental health disorder has the right to a series of due process hearings. Thus, the Board conducts OMHD certification, placement and annual review hearings, which are conducted by the Board’s Deputy Commissioners. Certification and annual review hearings are held to determine whether the parolee meets the OMHD commitment criteria. Placement hearings address whether the parolee should receive inpatient treatment provided by DSH or whether the parolee can be safely and effectively treated as an outpatient. (Penal Code §§ 2964(b), 2966; Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, §§ 2576-2580.)

Additionally, OMHD statutes provide parolees the right to request two independent evaluations for each of the hearings mentioned above. The independent professionals must be approved by the CDCR, DSH and are appointed and compensated by the Board. Please visit the Board’s OMHD Evaluator Resources for additional information.