August 27, 2008
Candidates speak on mental health and criminal justice issues

Wish I'd known about this, I'd have loved to have been there.

Candidates for three of Harris County's top elected offices promised Tuesday to reduce the number of mentally ill or drug addicted jail inmates by providing more community services through partnerships with advocacy groups.

Harris County spends an estimated $87 million a year to incarcerate and treat mentally ill inmates.

Speaking at a forum on behavioral health and the criminal justice system, Republican and Democratic candidates for county judge, sheriff and district attorney offered ideas meant to divert the mentally ill from jail to treatment.

There's not much detail about their statements in the story, so it's a little hard to offer a cogent critique of any of them. The good news is that everyone seems to be taking the idea that using the jails to warehouse these folks is not a good use of public resources. There's a real need for reform here, and a lot of opportunities to do better. I'm glad to see that we've started this discussion without having to argue that point.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 27, 2008 to Crime and Punishment
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