In January 2018, the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals held a joint hearing to gather input for the need of a statewide judicial committee on mental health. The two courts created the Texas Judicial Commission on Mental Health to develop, implement and coordinate policy designed to improve court interaction with children, adults and families with mental health needs.
The Judicial Commission on Mental Health continued its meetings in August, hearing updates from the Texas Judicial Council, including new legislative proposals; presentations from the Meadows Health Policy Institute; and the Health and Human Services Commission’s report. The day’s full agenda also included roundtable discussions about early diversion—finding ways to keep people out of jails who are better served in the mental health community.
Limestone County Sheriff Dennis Wilson pointed out the number one problem jails face is mental health. He stressed that the county jail is not a mental hospital. While Texas’ population has nearly tripled since 1964, the number of inpatient psychiatric beds has plummeted from 14,921 to 3,013. Wilson emphasized diversion must happen before people reach the jail.
The Commission will continue to meet and look closely at all aspects of mental health through the contributions and suggestions from the commission members and the collaboration of council members.