Tag Archives: mental illness

HART trouble

Not great. Harris County paused its Holistic Assistance Response Teams on Wednesday after Commissioners Court failed to reach an agreement on whether to pay the vendor operating the program. At issue is a $270,000 payment to Disaster Emergency Medical Assistance … Continue reading

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Judge Hidalgo talks about her mental health journey

Good stuff, and I’d bet there are a lot of people who need to hear it. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said she spent years fighting depression and suicidal thoughts but felt too ashamed to ask for help because of … Continue reading

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Judge Hidalgo takes leave of absence for depression

I wish her well. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has taken a temporary leave of absence to receive in-patient medical treatment for clinical depression, according to a statement from her office Monday. The statement notes she has been at an … Continue reading

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Expanding HART

Good to see. More of Harris County’s 911 calls will be diverted to a mental health crisis team instead of law enforcement officers after a year-long pilot program in a handful of neighborhoods handled thousands of non-violent incidents. Since March … Continue reading

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One small gun loophole may get closed

Take your wins where you can find them. Texas lawmakers are working to plug a gap in a 2009 law that was meant to keep people with a history of serious mental health issues from legally acquiring firearms. Bipartisan legislation … Continue reading

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The last thing we need is more people in the jail

This is a rare place where Democrats have leverage. Make good use of it. With an eye on Harris County, Texas lawmakers are considering new measures aimed at keeping more defendants accused of violent and sexual crimes behind bars as … Continue reading

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The gaps in Texas’ background check law

From Pro Publica: In the spring of 2009, Elliott Naishtat persuaded his colleagues in the Texas Legislature to pass a bill that he believed would require the state to report court-ordered mental health hospitalizations for Texans of all ages to … Continue reading

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The empty “mental health” promise

What’s going on in Uvalde these days. Days after the May 24 shooting, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised an “abundance of mental health services” to help “anyone in the community who needs it … the totality of anyone who lives … Continue reading

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Cornyn-Murphy gun bill gets final passage

What great timing, huh? Exactly one month after a gunman shot and killed 19 children and two teachers in a Uvalde elementary school, the most significant new gun laws in decades were headed to President Joe Biden’s desk on Friday … Continue reading

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Cornyn’s gun control bill passes the Senate

Happy to have had my cynicism proven wrong. Exactly four weeks after a teenage gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle massacred 19 elementary schoolers and two teachers in Uvalde, the U.S. Senate voted 64-34 Tuesday night to advance a bipartisan … Continue reading

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Of course we don’t do nearly enough for mental health

Because Republicans rush to talk about “mental health” every time there’s another mass shooting, it’s important to remember that their response to meeting the demand for mental health, in schools and elsewhere, has been completely inadequate. Tucker’s was the kind … Continue reading

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Andrea Yates, 20 years later

This case still breaks my heart. Twenty years after their killings, attorney George Parnham still dutifully visits the graves of Andrea Yates’ five children. He regularly drives to Clear Lake to leave flowers for Noah, 7; John, 5; Paul, 3; … Continue reading

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Commissioners Court rejects Ogg’s request for more prosecutors

I fully expected that Commissioners Court going from 4-1 Republican to 3-2 Democratic after the last election would signal big changes in how business was done in Harris County, but I didn’t expect this to be the first milestone on … Continue reading

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How many prosecutors do we need?

Opinions differ, but it’s a big question in Harris County right now. Hanover is one of many prosecutors Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said are overburdened — the reason she has asked Commissioners Court for a budget that would … Continue reading

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Health care needs to be a twofer

Lt. Governor candidate Mike Collier is on the right track here, but he needs to keep going. Lieutenant governor hopeful Mike Collier announced his health care reform plan Tuesday, which aims to reduce costs and increase access to health care … Continue reading

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Senate considers mostly symbolic ideas on school safety

Once again, see if you can tell what’s missing from this discussion. Nearly three weeks after a shooter killed 10 people at a high school southeast of Houston, lawmakers gathered at the Texas Capitol on Monday to discuss new school … Continue reading

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Reducing solitary confinement

This is good. Almost five years after images surfaced of a mentally ill inmate wallowing in a cell full of human waste and bugs, the Harris County jail has cut in half its use of solitary confinement. The decrease is … Continue reading

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More pre-trial diversion

DA Kim Ogg moves forward on more campaign promises. During a press conference Tuesday, Ogg laid out in broad strokes the policy recommendations written by the committees and emphasized that she is seeking participation from experts and Houston’s leaders. “We … Continue reading

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Sandra Bland Act passes

Good. The Texas House initially approved the Sandra Bland Act on Friday with a unanimous vote. The body now has to vote on the mental health bill one more time before it reaches Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. (Update, May 20: … Continue reading

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The Sandra Bland Act

Good. State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, on Thursday filed House Bill 2702, dubbed the Sandra Bland Act. The exhaustive piece of legislation would expand what qualifies as racial and ethnic profiling; mandate people experiencing a mental health crisis and substance … Continue reading

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New Sheriff not interested in defending current bail policies

Good. After defeating Sheriff Ron Hickman in the election this month, Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzalez is already sticking his nose in Hickman’s official business — mainly, the lawsuit filed against him. Hickman, along with the county, all the county judges and … Continue reading

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Checking in with Ed Gonzalez

Also known as Harris County Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzalez. Ed Gonzalez will have a lot to do when he assumes the position of the county’s top cop in January. He’ll have to rein in overtime pay, manage the Harris County jail … Continue reading

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More on the Sandra Bland settlement

State Rep. Garnet Coleman is working to implement the reforms mandated by the Sandra Bland lawsuit settlement. House Democrats sparred with state law enforcement officials over questions of racial profiling Tuesday at a sometimes contentious hearing. It was the latest … Continue reading

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Family of Sandra Bland settles its lawsuit

I hope this brings them some peace, but more importantly I hope it leads to fewer inmate deaths, in Waller County and elsewhere. The family of Sandra Bland — who died last year in a Waller County Jail cell — … Continue reading

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Legislation to ban the jailing of rape victims proposed

Hard to argue with, I must say. The controversial jailing of a rape victim to ensure her testimony could lead to a new state law protecting victims’ rights to an appointed attorney. State Sen. Joan Huffman is joining with Harris … Continue reading

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Jailed rape victim’s lawyer calls for special prosecutor

To investigate the actions of the DA’s office that led to her incarceration. Prosecutors broke the law when they jailed a rape victim in order to secure her testimony against her attacker, the woman’s attorney claimed Monday in a letter … Continue reading

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Behind The Tower

Fifty years have passed since Charles Whitman went on an infamous killing spree at the University of Texas. Now a group of historians at UT have taken an in depth look at Whitman and his actions, and tried to answer … Continue reading

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More on the jailed rape victim

The Chron pens a harsh editorial. Although a spokesman for the district attorney’s office has admitted this miscarriage of justice should never have happened, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson defends the prosecutor involved in the case. She says the … Continue reading

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Falkenberg talks to DA Anderson about jailed rape victim

Worth reading, as you would expect. I’m going to quote from the conclusion: [Assistant DA Nick] Socias appeared to have diligently tried to help, but he seemed to be trying alone. Anderson’s office said she wasn’t informed about the situation … Continue reading

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Why would you even think to put a rape victim in jail?

I am outraged. The 25-year-old rape victim, frightened and long-suffering from mental illness, agreed in December to testify against the Houston man who brutally assaulted her in 2013. She hoped to put him behind bars for life. But that decision … Continue reading

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If we really cared about improving mental health in Texas

We would have expanded Medicaid at our first opportunity. Federal health officials say people with mental illness and addictions are being left behind in Texas because the state hasn’t expanded Medicaid to more low-income adults. The health care program for … Continue reading

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What’s next for Adrian Garcia?

We haven’t seen the last of him, I suspect. In less than a year, former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia has gone from being the top Democratic elected official in Harris County to an also-ran in back-to-back elections. Garcia’s resounding … Continue reading

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Ground broken on the joint processing center

Good. The majority of suspects arrested by Houston police get booked at one of two city jails, and within 48 hours they are transferred and booked in all over again at the Harris County Jail. Two years from now, officials … Continue reading

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Council approves inmate processing center deal with Harris County

Very good news. An end is in sight for the inefficient process of shuttling prisoners in and out of redundant local lockups after the City Council on Wednesday approved an agreement with Harris County to build a long-discussed inmate processing … Continue reading

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