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Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

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 […]

Opposing the privatized psych hospital

Some pushback on a bad idea. A coalition of influential Texas organizations is pushing back against the proposed privatization of a state psychiatric hospital by Geo Care, a subsidiary of a prison operations group that has a troubled history in Texas. The Department of State Health Services is preparing to privatize one of the state […]

Privatizing psych hospitals makes as much sense as privatizing prisons

Especially when it’s the same outfit doing the privatizing in each case. Sixteen months after the Montgomery County Mental Health Treatment Facility opened in Conroe, the state’s first publicly funded, privately run psychiatric hospital is facing at least $53,000 in state fines for serious shortcomings in patient care. The private operator, Geo Care, is a […]

Spending a little to save a lot

Remember HPD’s Chronic Consumer Stabilization Program, in which the police department attempted to deal with some of the people who interact with them the most often in a better, more humane, and more cost-effective way? Well, it’s been working. Since the program began, run-ins between police and the top 30 chronic consumers have declined by […]

Medicaid expansion isn’t just about hospitals

Grits has an insight. At [last] Monday’s House County Affairs hearing, Chairman Garnet Coleman noted the irony in response to testimony by witnesses regarding the effectiveness of Veterans Courts, which are essentially mental-health courts aimed at current and former military members. Citing the example of a mentally ill veteran coming back from Afghanistan who, as a […]

More on the crime lab and the city jail

Here we have some more information about Mayor Parker’s plans for the crime lab, though it’s still not really clear where this is going. Parker wants to make the lab independent of HPD and the city, overseen instead by a local government board similar to the Port of Houston Authority, whose members are jointly appointed […]

A better way for law enforcement to deal with the mentally ill

Good. Three Harris County Sheriff’s deputies will have new partners riding shotgun soon, if county officials approve a pilot program pairing them with mental health workers to deal with mentally disturbed suspects. Sheriff Adrian Garcia said he wants to treat the mentally ill, not jail them. “This will help keep those in crisis from becoming […]

Andrea Yates, ten years later

It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten years since Andrea Yates drowned her children in their bathtub. I’ve blogged about her many times since first posting about her trial and conviction, which was later overturned on the grounds that an expert witness for the prosecution, Dr. Park Dietz, gave false testimony at her trial; […]

The mental health catastrophe is coming

Here’s yet another story about the forthcoming disaster in mental health care that is about to be perpetuated by the Legislature. It starts with one of the best analogies I’ve seen: Dr. Steven B. Schnee, executive director of the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, offered up an extended metaphor one day recently […]

Harris County gets ready for the shaft

One of the ways in which the state will attempt to address its budget shortfall is by shortchanging counties – cutting reimbursements, raiding funds, and the like. Having already decimated its own budget, Harris County is preparing for further indignities. “When you go to the Legislature you don’t want to be whining about everything,” said […]

Budget testimony from the Sheriff’s office

In addition to all of the education and HHSC-related testimony before the Senate Finance Committee this week, law enforcement agencies who will be affected by cuts to mental health services were also heard from. Here’s a press release sent out by Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia about what they had to say: The Harris County […]

Harris County braces for state budget cuts

More joy to look forward to. Proposed state budget cuts could cost Harris County government nearly $50 million a year, according to a legislative analyst’s rough estimates, rolling back or eliminating state allowances for dozens of programs that include mental health services, auto theft prevention, alternatives to jail and a school for juvenile offenders. The […]

More on mental health

Stephen Schnee, the executive director of MHMRA of Harris County, and Octavio N. Martinez, Jr, the executive director of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and a clinical professor in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin, make the case again for not cutting mental health services in the state […]

Cuts here mean hikes there

The only problem with this AP story is the headline, “Texas budget cuts may shift burden to locals”. There’s no “may” about it – the Pitts budget would absolutely shift a huge burden to local governments. Cuts set off a domino effect: Historically, public schools raise property taxes when the state education agency sends smaller […]

On county jails and treating mental illness

There’s really only one thing that needs to be said about this op-ed, which was co-written by Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and HPD Chief Charles McClelland. Texas ranks 49th in the nation in per capita spending on mental health services. Only 25 percent of children and 18 percent of adults with severe mental illness […]

Where the state cuts meet the local budgets

Via Grits, an editorial in the Longview News-Journal of interest: Routine mental health services were the first to fall during the 2003 budget crisis, which was preceded by pre-session cuts the fall and summer of 2002. East Texas mental health professionals, judges, law enforcement and elected officials tell us such cuts already have curtailed routine […]

State cuts will equal local costs

Grits is absolutely right: Cuts to state mental hospitals would be a massive unfunded mandate for county jails. [S]heriffs across Texas are increasingly frustrated and worried about the ever-decreasing amount of bed space available at state mental hospitals. Too often, when mentally ill offenders come to their jails, sheriffs who are required to provide appropriate […]

Them that has, gets

This is how it works in this state. Some of Texas’ most vulnerable residents – the very poor, the mentally ill, those suffering from birth defects, and children from troubled families – would lose state support and services under several new budget-cutting proposals. In one of the deepest proposed cuts, made public Tuesday by the […]

Grits on the CCSI

Scott Henson got the same information I did about the HPD “Chronic Consumer Stabilization Initiative” pilot program, and as always his take is worth reading. In that post, he pointed to this Malcolm Gladwell article that puts this initiative into a larger context, and which is also well worth your time. Also, he got a […]

The Chronic Consumer Stabilization Initiative

In the comments to my previous post about mental illness and the criminal justice system, reader Katherine reminded me of this Houston Press article from last December, about a pilot program between HPD and the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County. Called the Chronic Consumer Stabilization Initiative, it was designed to work closely […]