Mental Health in Texas prisons and jails
October 13, 2012
University of Southern California
A. Introduction: Issue, Policy, Problem:
Texas has approximately 24.3 million residents according to 2010 state statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Close to 833,000 adults live with a serious mental illness. Within these 24.3 million residents of Texas in 2008, approximately 37,700 adults with a mental illness were incarcerated (NAMI.org). Additionally, there is an estimated 31% of female and 14% of male jail inmates nationally live with serious mental illness. We see this because there are inadequate public mental health services to meet the needs of those suffering. Texas public mental health system provides services to only 21% of adults who live with a mental illness (NAMI.org).
The objective of the 18th Edition Texas Laws for Mental Health are to provide a comprehensive range of services for persons with mental illness or mental retardation that need publicly supported care, treatment, or habilitation. In providing those services, efforts will be made to coordinate services and programs with services and programs provided by other governmental entities to minimize duplication and to share with other governmental entities in financing those services and programs (TDSHS.us).
Regardless of the objective by the Texas Laws, prisoners are not, however, a powerful public constituency, and legislative and executive branch officials typically ignore their rights absent litigation or the threat of litigation (UNHCR.org). With this being said, there is great failure within this objective. Many, even thousands of prisoners become incarcerated without receiving the major mental health services they require. Gazing within, many prison mental health services are woefully deficient, crippled by understanding, insufficient facilities, and limited programs. State budget cuts handed down during the recent legislative session left
References: Abram, K. M., & Teplin, L. A. (1991). Co-occurring disorders among mentally ill jail detainees. American Psychologist, 46, 1036-1045. Dan L. Creson, "MENTAL HEALTH," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/smmun), accessed October 14, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. Janice C. May, "GOVERNMENT," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mzgfq), accessed October 14, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. Undefined. (May 15, 2012). Texas Department of State Health Services. In 18th Edition Texas Laws for Mental Health. Retrieved October 14, 2012, from http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/mhrules/Texas_Laws.shtm.