Monday, July 03, 2006

Blogger makes connection: Failure to fund mental health services precipitates bulging prison population

Greg Moses at the Texas Civil Rights Review points out the connection between two important issues raised this weekend in the Austin Statesman: In this post Greg highlighted Mike Ward's article from Saturday on how overcrowded prisons are causing Texas officials consider leasing private prison space, while here Moses points to Andrea Ball's excellent Sunday offering on the underfunded state mental health system.

Kudos to Greg for making the link. The various estimates I hear for the number of mentally ill inmates in Texas prisons range from 16% to 22% or so, depending on who is estimating and what they're counting, and nearly every such statistic you see includes a caveat that mental illness likely is underreported, as is the case with society at large.

County jails have it just as bad: Because of the issues reported by Ms. Ball, today they're required to house mentally ill inmates for months waiting for beds in state mental hospitals to open up - all before the defendant has even been tried.

Bottom line: Texas' failure to invest in indigent mental health services on the front end accounts for a big portion of today's prison overcrowding pressures. At this juncture, additional budget cuts for mental health would cost the state MORE, even in the short run, while burdening society with devastating, avoidable social costs down the line.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said,i applaud your blog, mental health consumers are the least capable of self advocacy,my doctors made me take zyprexa for 4 years which was ineffective for my symptoms.

I now have a victims support page against Eli Lilly for it's Zyprexa product causing my diabetes.--Daniel Haszard