Mental Health Criminals in Texas

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Brittany N. McDaniel
Mental Health Criminals in Texas
Colorado State University Global Campus
December 17, 2012

Mental Health Criminals in Texas
The United States has taken many strides to adequately defend and prosecute mentally ill offenders, but some still fall through the cracks of the legal system and do not get the help that they truly need. Mental illness is a serious medical dilemma with severe social implications. Individuals that are mentally ill and receive help for their illness can become functioning members of society and those that do not receive help often commit crimes either unknowingly or as a part of their mental disorder itself. Texas in general struggles to provide the help that mentally ill offenders seriously need. Some forms of mental illness are minor and some are severe, but either way treatment is necessary regardless of whether it is administered inside or outside of the criminal justice system. There are now far more persons with mental illness in our nation’s jails and prisons than in state mental hospitals. See Michael Winerip, Bedlam on the Streets, N.Y. TIMES MAGAZINE (May 23, 1999). A September 2006 Department of Justice report stated that as of mid-2005 “more than half of all prison and jail inmates had a mental health problem, including 705,600 inmates in State prisons, 78,800 in Federal prisons, and 479,900 in local jails.” Doris J. James and Lauren E. Glaze, Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates, U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics (Sept. 2006). “In Texas, one study revealed that 30% of state prison jail inmates are also logged in the state’s public mental health database, with approximately 10% of all inmates having a diagnosis of serious mental illness that would be considered in the “priority population” for receipt of public mental health services” (Shannon & Bensen, 2008). There are more individuals incarcerated in Texas state prisons with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia than in the general population by ratio and percentage. “The rate of incidence of persons with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic depression), and major depression within the jail and prison population is four times that of the general population. See Fox Butterfield, By Default, Jails Become Mental Institutions, N.Y. TIMES (March 5, 1998). And, “[o]ne in every 8 State prisoners was receiving some mental health therapy or counseling services at midyear 2000” and close to “10% were receiving psychotropic medications” for treatment of mental illnesses” (Shannon & Bensen, 2008).

There are multiple different types of mental illness including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, personality disorders, and anxiety disorders. All of these mental illnesses are treatable, but not curable; therefore, some of these mental illnesses should require supervised living situations so that the individuals do not harm themselves or others, however as of today the law states that individuals with severe mental illness have the right to live and care for themselves on their own without supervision. When the supervised living situations are not provided it is highly likely that some of the individuals with these disorders will harm themselves or others because they discontinue their treatment. Mental illness is prevalent in modern day society and it can at times lead to deviant behavior, especially from those with severe mental disorders. Some of these individuals with severe mental illness believe that imaginary people speak to them. Some of these delusions and manifested mental disorders lead to these voices and beings telling these individuals to do things that healthy people would deem as morally corrupt. Individuals such as Andrea Yates of Texas, Richard Chase and James Holmes in the Aurora, Colorado killings have murdered individuals due to mental illness. A recent example of this would be the shooting that occurred on...
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