Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Senate committee to discuss jail safety

The Texas Senate Criminal Justice Committee this morning will meet to discuss jail safety and suicide in the wake of Sandra Bland's untimely death. Here's the agenda listing invited testimony; they'll also hear public testimony. Go here to watch the hearing.

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.

“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.
Fabelo also praised mental-health diversion programs in Bexar County, reported Mike Ware in the Express-News:
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.

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.
AND MORE: See Deitch on jail safety and oversight


Anonymous said...

Best to think of law enforcement officers same as strange pitbull. Extreme caution is advised. He might be friendly. Might be deadly. If you run, its instinct is to chase you and attempt to you. Don't make any sudden moves. Avoid contact unless absolutely necessary. Keep away from children.

Peter.Marana said...

I sat in on the hearing yesterday and saw the chairman and most committee members trying to do the right thing. Of course there was the stupid "nanny state" comment from one west Texas senator. But daylight is now hitting the practice of sheriffs not doing any mental health assessment on intake even though they are already required to do so. The Bexar County program, which has been very successful, has proven the value of taking this seriously both from saving taxpayer dollars but increasing the safety of those incarcerated.

It is important to remember too that Texas has an incarcerated population 45% higher when compared to the entire rest of the country. No cherry-picking, that's 49 other states. This means that there are 50,000 extra inmates held in prison in Texas. A miracle, I guess. This also means that the the $1.25 billion spent to house this extra population could be spent to hire 25,000 new teachers in Texas. Everyone wants law and order, but at what cost and could the other 49 states be wrong?

Anonymous said...

Ten strategies to avoid death when confronted with an LEO.....taught in pubic skools so that children will be ingrained with knowledge of being inferior to cops and know their place in society.

Make sure they know that no matter how many videos there are of a cop simply murdering an unarmed person, they(cops) never suffer for it.

Give them the stats of grand jury indictments of cops in Tx. so they know for sure they're not of the same value.

The father of modern schools, Horace Mann, instituted the Prussian school model developed by Frederick the Great, one to implement obedience and control to make children good future workers for the elite.

Building upon the depersonalized uniformity and rigid hierarchy of the Prussian system, they constructed an industrial schooling model designed to produce millions of workers for AmericaŹ¼s factories.

Believing that most of America’s students were destined for a life of menial, industrial labor, these theorists created a multi-track educational system meant to sort students from an early age. While the best and brightest were carefully groomed for leadership positions, the majority was relegated to a monotonous education of rote learning and task completion.

Consequently, our schooling system is still locked into the Prussian-industrial framework of fear, isolation, and monotony. For both students and teachers, procedure is emphasized over innovation, uniformity over individual expression, and control over empowerment. It is, therefore, not surprising that the majority of AmericaŹ¼s classrooms have changed little in over one hundred years.

So yes, using public schools is a great way to instill abject fear and total obedience of the ruling class and it's enforcers.

Too bad this isn't a new idea and the internet, the scourge of those who wield power, has somewhat broadened the minds of even children.

For the AG of Texas to come up with something such as ten rules for future(or not so future) victims simply shows his mindset for the entirety of what he considers the public, lesser people.

Nothing to see here. Move on now....unless you want to be beaten or killed for any reason at all.

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! teachers! leave the kids alone!
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.