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Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

More on the Sandra Bland settlement

State Rep. Garnet Coleman is working to implement the reforms mandated by the Sandra Bland lawsuit settlement. House Democrats sparred with state law enforcement officials over questions of racial profiling Tuesday at a sometimes contentious hearing. It was the latest in a series of House County Affairs Committee hearings on policing in advance of the […]

Family of Sandra Bland settles its lawsuit

I hope this brings them some peace, but more importantly I hope it leads to fewer inmate deaths, in Waller County and elsewhere. The family of Sandra Bland — who died last year in a Waller County Jail cell — has reached a settlement with Texas officials in a wrongful death lawsuit, a lawyer for […]

Legislation to ban the jailing of rape victims proposed

Hard to argue with, I must say. The controversial jailing of a rape victim to ensure her testimony could lead to a new state law protecting victims’ rights to an appointed attorney. State Sen. Joan Huffman is joining with Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson and Sheriff Ron Hickman to push for new legislation to […]

Jailed rape victim’s lawyer calls for special prosecutor

To investigate the actions of the DA’s office that led to her incarceration. Prosecutors broke the law when they jailed a rape victim in order to secure her testimony against her attacker, the woman’s attorney claimed Monday in a letter to Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson. Attorney Sean Buckley said he believes prosecutors illegally […]

Behind The Tower

Fifty years have passed since Charles Whitman went on an infamous killing spree at the University of Texas. Now a group of historians at UT have taken an in depth look at Whitman and his actions, and tried to answer questions we still don’t fully understand today. What happens to events that historians ignore, events […]

More on the jailed rape victim

The Chron pens a harsh editorial. Although a spokesman for the district attorney’s office has admitted this miscarriage of justice should never have happened, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson defends the prosecutor involved in the case. She says the prosecutor tried to find a suitable place for the sexual assault survivor to stay after […]

Falkenberg talks to DA Anderson about jailed rape victim

Worth reading, as you would expect. I’m going to quote from the conclusion: [Assistant DA Nick] Socias appeared to have diligently tried to help, but he seemed to be trying alone. Anderson’s office said she wasn’t informed about the situation until near the end of trial. She should have been involved from the start. The […]

Why would you even think to put a rape victim in jail?

I am outraged. The 25-year-old rape victim, frightened and long-suffering from mental illness, agreed in December to testify against the Houston man who brutally assaulted her in 2013. She hoped to put him behind bars for life. But that decision landed her in the Harris County jail for more than a month over the Christmas […]

If we really cared about improving mental health in Texas

We would have expanded Medicaid at our first opportunity. Federal health officials say people with mental illness and addictions are being left behind in Texas because the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid to more low-income adults. The health care program for the poor is controversial for many Republicans. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that expansion was […]

What’s next for Adrian Garcia?

We haven’t seen the last of him, I suspect. In less than a year, former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia has gone from being the top Democratic elected official in Harris County to an also-ran in back-to-back elections. Garcia’s resounding primary loss to U.S. Rep. Gene Green on Tuesday leaves him politically precarious, having alienated […]

Ground broken on the joint processing center

Good. The majority of suspects arrested by Houston police get booked at one of two city jails, and within 48 hours they are transferred and booked in all over again at the Harris County Jail. Two years from now, officials say, this duplication will be a thing of the past. The central and southeast police […]

Council approves inmate processing center deal with Harris County

Very good news. An end is in sight for the inefficient process of shuttling prisoners in and out of redundant local lockups after the City Council on Wednesday approved an agreement with Harris County to build a long-discussed inmate processing center. Public officials have discussed the need for a new booking center since the 1990s, […]

Ballot order drawn

Here is the official ballot order for City of Houston candidates this November, via Chron reporter Mike Morris on Twitter. You’re all familiar with my rant about ballot order by now – we have electronic voting machines, they should simply randomize the ballot order for each voter – so I’ll just skip it and move […]

What Dallas County can teach us about jail overcrowding

Why can’t Harris County be more like Dallas County, at least in this regard? Dallas County’s jail population has hit an all-time low. That means more spacious jail tanks and fewer bologna sandwiches. If the trend continues, it could add up to big savings for taxpayers. The jail, the seventh-largest in the country, is the […]

Outsourcing inmates again

We’ve been down this road before. For the first time in three years, the Harris County sheriff began transferring busloads of inmates this week to other correctional facilities to avoid overcrowding at the state’s largest jail. The jail population is currently at 93 percent of its 9,434-bed capacity, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said Monday. […]

Minding Houston

Want to know about mental health issues and how they are being addressed by the Legislature? Tune in to Minding Houston, the legislatively-focused blog of Mental Health America of Greater Houston. From their About page: Mental Health America of Greater Houston is pleased to offer the blog, “Minding Houston,” which covers legislation and issues associated […]

Medicaid expansion: Still a great deal, especially for cities

So many uninsured people could get covered if Medicaid expansion were universal instead of just here and there. Expanding Medicaid under the new health care law would do a lot to slash the number of uninsured people, at least in some of the nation’s largest cities, according to a new report. A review of 14 […]

Dewhurst admits he has no control over his campaign

I can’t think of any other way to characterize this. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said Monday he was “appalled” by Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson’s decision to publicize court filings detailing Dan Patrick’s past mental health issues and that he tried to put a stop to the initial document release as far back as two weeks […]

One thing I won’t criticize Dan Patrick for

This is just wrong. Sen. Dan Patrick issued a terse statement late Thursday about a period in his life 30 years ago during which he sought medical attention to cope with “mild depression and exhaustion.” Patrick, who is in a runoff with David Dewhurst for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor issued the statement late […]

Council approves hoarding ordinance

I think they’re on the right track. The Houston City Council unanimously approved an anti-hoarding ordinance Wednesday without a clear idea of how it will be enforced. The ordinance, which does not apply to single-family homes, clarifies when police can seek a warrant to enter a home and prioritizes mental health treatment before turning to […]

Council considers hoarding ordinance

I hadn’t realized Houston didn’t already have an ordinance to deal with hoarding. Apparently, we are not at all unique in this regard. A proposed ordinance would begin to expand the city’s options for resolving hoarding situations even when the hoarder owns the property. The measure, which would not apply to single-family homes, would create […]

Inmates and Medicaid

Other states are doing what Texas has declined to do. Being arrested in Chicago for, say, drug possession or assault gets you sent to the Cook County Jail to be fingerprinted, photographed and X-rayed. You’ll also get help applying for health insurance. At least six states and counties from Maryland to Oregon’s Multnomah are getting […]

If you want to be treated for mental illness, go to jail

You’ve heard it said that the Harris County Jail is the largest mental health facility in Texas. Here’s a great story in the Observer by Emily DePrang that illustrates what that really means. Of the 9,000 or so inmates here, more than a quarter take medication for mental illness, meaning that many days, this jail […]

County jail diversion program moving forward

News like this is always welcome. Harris County is moving forward with a much-anticipated jail diversion program aimed at reducing the soaring number – and the associated cost – of mentally ill residents who repeatedly cycle through the county lockup. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett this week announced his pick to head the four-year pilot […]

More on Kim Ogg

Here’s the full Chron story about Kim Ogg’s declaration that she will run for Harris County DA as a Democrat in 2014. “I have the varied experience in policy, in prevention and in prosecution that I think gives me a broad overview of the system,” Ogg told reporters on the steps of the historic 1910 […]

Less is more, local legislative edition

Harris County and the city of Houston generally play more defense than offense when the Legislature is in session, so as a rule the fewer bills that get passed that affect them, the better. County and city lobbyists said their efforts to scuttle unfunded mandates and bills that would have handcuffed local governments’ powers largely […]

The next step to closing the city jail

The sobering center was Step 1. Step 2 is a joint processing center with the county, and that is now closer to happening. With backing from the city of Houston, Harris County is reviving a long-discussed plan to build a facility to process inmates into the county jail, and to offer the mental health services […]

Treating rather than jailing the mentally ill

Very good news. Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and his medical staff wholeheartedly support a bill filed this week to reduce recidivism by the mentally ill who wind up in the county jail, a $5 million pilot program to transition them into community treatment facilities. “These individuals are principally in our custody because they are […]

Yes, Ed Emmett supports Medicaid expansion

As I’m sure you’re aware, I’ve been banging the drum pretty much nonstop for Medicaid expansion. I see it not only as a state issue but a county issue as well, which is why I’ve made a big deal about what Harris County is or isn’t doing about it. I haven’t seen the subject come […]

Mental health court coup

Interesting. Citing problems with the administration of Harris County’s mental health court, a board of judges has ousted the court’s founder and presiding judge, Jan Krocker, officials confirmed Friday. “There were a lot of valid complaints about Judge Krocker’s administration of the court, and she didn’t like the idea of oversight,” said Michael McSpadden, Houston’s […]

On school shootings

I have four things to say about this. In the national collective grief rising from Friday’s mass shooting in Connecticut, one apparent trust seems to have completely shattered: that an elementary school was sacred and safe ground. Left in the wake of 20 children and eight adults massacred by a lone gunman is a renewed […]

The felony mental health court

I’d celebrate, too. [State District Court Judge] Krocker and others celebrated the official opening of Harris County’s felony mental health court, which started putting mentally ill defendants on probation instead of sending them to jail in May. Krocker has been working to get a special court to oversee felony cases of defendants diagnosed with schizophrenia, […]

The Sheriff’s Crisis Intervention team

It’s a really good idea. Crisis intervention teams, tagged to respond to calls involving mentally disturbed subjects, reflect a new wave of law enforcement thinking pioneered by the Memphis, Tenn., Police Department in the 1980s. Such efforts have received renewed attention after a Houston police officer last week fatally shot a mentally ill double-amputee who […]

Yet another reason to expand Medicaid

Grits: A friend forwarded me a handout being circulated at the Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council detailing a pair of studies of “Kendra’s Law” out of New York, which provides court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment to a small subset of probationers in the “most desperate need for psychiatric treatment.” According to the handout, “Taken […]