Grits has to work and can't attend, but I'll try to listen in.
RELATED: 700 inmates took ill over the weekend at the El Paso County Jail.
MORE: I've had this hearing on in the background while working, not paying close attention, but perked up when Chairman John Whitmire said the Lt. Governor asked him to work on developing a list of ten "dos and donts" to teach the public about how to deal with police officers at traffic stops. The Lieutenant Governor wants to train the public, he said, on the assumption that officers already get training on how to deal with the public. The chairman asked Kim Vickers of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement if his agency would be the right one to work on that. Vickers replied that it would be an excellent job for the public schools.
AND MORE: According to the Department of State Health Services, about 76,000 inmates who require mental health services are booked into jail each year, some of them many times. About two thirds of them are already accessing mental health services in the free world before they're arrested.
SEE ALSO: Coverage from the Texas Tribune, the Austin Statesman, KVUE-TV (Austin), KLBK-TV (Abilene), and (behind paywall) the Express-News, Chuck Lindell at the Statesman quoted Tony Fabelo getting off a couple of strong points:
Among the invited witnesses was Tony Fabelo, research director for the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center, who pointed out a large hole in the oversight system. While county jails are required by law to screen new prisoners for mental health problems, city jails do not, he said.Fabelo also praised mental-health diversion programs in Bexar County, reported Mike Ware in the Express-News:
“If you are looking at a policy to identify them early to connect them to treatment, you are missing a gigantic step,” he said.
Fabelo praised a Texas law that requires prisoners identified as having a potential mental illness to receive a clinical assessment, with the results sent to a judge to decide if jail release is appropriate.
The problem, he said, is that there is no record of any such hearings being held.
“Nobody knows what (that type of) hearing is. Nobody,” Fabelo said.
said the Bexar County program is proving successful at removing thousands of offenders who otherwise would clog jail cells. New assessment and screening procedures took effect Sept. 1 that could lead to even better outcomes, he said.AND MORE: See Deitch on jail safety and oversight
Under Bexar County’s program, law enforcement officers screen people when they’re arrested to determine if they need to go to jail or a treatment center. If they go to jail and exhibit signs of mental instability, they again are assessed to measure whether they are suicidal or need to be placed in a mental health hospital.