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Weekly News Roundup

Every Monday, we post news articles, studies, or press releases that cover topics related to the intersection of criminal justice and mental health in Texas. 

Community activists sound the alarm on Dallas County Juvenile Detention Center: "House of horrors": Allegations include not being allowed to shower, unreasonable amounts of time spent in solitary confinement and more.

Sherman Medical Center closes its behavior health unit: The hospital decided moving resources to mammography, dialysis, and new surgical equipment would better serve Texoma.

He lingered for months in jail. Long waits for Texas mental health beds mean he’s not alone: A Tarrant County man who has intellectual and developmental disabilities and a schizophrenia diagnosis was declared incompetent to stand trial. He stayed in jail six months until he was taken to a state supported living center.

UNT Dallas Pioneers Online Grad Degree in Criminal Justice To Tackle Mental Health Crisis: Dallas County Judge Robert W. Francis says that jails and prisons have "effectively become America's largest mental health providers." UNT Dallas' new online master's degree in Criminal Justice takes a forward-thinking approach to education in the field.

Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to receive state funds to aid in mental health crises: Law enforcement officers are being called to an increasing number of incidents involving mental health crises. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office will now receive state money to aid their responses and offer care options.

Homicide in Travis Co. highlights need for stronger mental health services, leaders say: A 19-year-old woman admitted to killing one family member, trying to kill another and planning to kill one more. Investigators said she called 911 saying “My mission was to assassinate somebody, but it went wrong.”

Dumas launches behavioral health team to tackle mental health challenges: Behavioral health care providers can determine whether the individual is a danger to self or others and inform law enforcement on whether civil or criminal measures can be safely employed.

Family claims Texas prison failed to safely manage schizophrenic man's release: A woman says her brother who has schizophrenia was released at a Greyhound Bus Station, but he got lost and never made it to his destination. 

San Antonio’s mental health crisis response team will respond to 911 calls 24/7: San Antonio Community Outreach and Resiliency Effort, or SA CORE, changed its response hours at the request of City Council.

Texas to begin construction this year on seven new psychiatric hospital projects: The construction begins after lawmakers have allocated $2.5 billion to modernize and increase access to inpatient psychiatric care in Texas.

A mental health program for police officers is now available statewide:  Police chiefs across North Texas say that programs that address diseases like depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses could save officers' lives.

Texas HHSC shares plans for $159 million Panhandle State Hospital in Amarillo: The Panhandle State Hospital will hold 50 forensic (justice involved) beds and 25 civil (court mandated) beds and would be located near the Amarillo Medical District.

'Pretty bad’: Whistleblower shares pictures of nasty conditions inside Dallas County’s juvie lockup: Under state law, juveniles are supposed to have 10 hours of “function” time outside their cells, like going to school or doing activities. But whistleblowers say that's not happening frequently.

Texas improves 988 hotline answer rate but still lags behind: By the numbers: 84% of the 18,800 people who called Texas' 988 hotline in May connected with a counselor, according to data from the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Fayette County Sheriff's Office holds mental health class for officers: The course aims to teach Peace Officers about managing their physical, mental, emotional and social wellness/health, and to break down the stigma of mental health and seeking help in the law enforcement profession.

Suicides in Texas Prisons Have Dramatically Increased: Data from the Texas Justice Initiative shows that prison suicides in the state have nearly doubled over the last four years, from an average of 28.6 a year from 2005-2019 to 56 a year from 2020-2023.

Representative Carter Secures $748,000 for Copperas Cove Mental Health Response Team: Cove officials said it’s the largest grant ever received by CCPD, and they are happy to accept it.

HHSC to Host Community Information Session on $120 Million Rio Grande State Center Expansion Project: The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is inviting the public to attend an information session on Thursday, June 20. The community information session will offer an overview of state hospital system improvements and provide the public an opportunity to ask questions about the facility.

Mental Health Diversion Pilot to Begin by August: By the end of August, Integral Care will expand its Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) walk-in clinic to 24/7 care, increasing peer support services and access to doctors that can prescribe psychiatric medication. 

KCBD Investigates The Mental Health Crisis: New multimillion, maximum-security psychiatric center coming to Lubbock: Patients will receive competency restoration services at the 50-bed inpatient facility; patients are going to come to the center through a commitment of the court.

Williamson County strives to close gaps in access to mental health care: The county’s proactive approach prevents or redirects many individuals in the midst of a mental crisis from seeing a jail cell, instead allowing them to receive the appropriate help they need during a critical time.

Mental health episode preceded League City shooting, witness says: A 43-year-old man was in the throes of a mental-health crisis when he shot his father dead in the back yard of the family home, according to an arrest affidavit.

Uvalde Police announce new position to help deal with mental health and family violence: Detective Corporal Jessica Zamora will follow up on anyone who has experienced a mental health crisis or family violence situation.

Lubbock County sheriff requesting mental health deputies: Sheriff Kelly Rowe met with the commissioners court in a budget workshop where he told the court that his office responded to 6,669 calls in 2020, and that number increased to 10,539 calls in 2023. Rowe said 285 of last year’s calls were related to a suicidal subject.

Inmate Deaths in North TX Put Spotlight on Mental Health: Over the last four years, three inmates in Tarrant County jail have died from severe dehydration despite having access to water in their cells.

Center to break ground on mental health facility: Hill Country Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Centers CEO Tod Citron said construction on a 32-bed behavioral health center should break ground in July in Uvalde. 

Texas is investing in better mental health (op-ed): Mental health is Texas' foremost public health challenge today and a leading contributor to disability and death, especially among adolescent Texans. Compounded by historic underservice, Texas has faced an uphill battle when it comes to providing sufficient mental health resources to its growing population, but state leaders – including the University of Texas System – are committed to turning the tide.

Harris County plans for sustainable mental health care programs: Harris County has been ambitiously building its continuum of behavioral health care and pursuing innovative solutions. This proactive approach aims to ensure the sustainability of essential mental health services for its residents in the long term. 

Brazos County takes next step in creating new mental health court: Brazos County is on track to join the ranks of Texas counties implementing specialized mental health court programs, aiming to reshape how justice is administered for individuals with mental illness or intellectual disabilities.

Amarillo Area Foundation grants over $1M to mental, behavioral health care organizations: The Amarillo Area Foundation awarded $1,199,400 to health focused organizations and programs in the first discretionary grant cycle of 2024. Ten of the 18 non-profits awarded during this cycle are health focused including Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute for Texas and Aspire a Mindful Place.

Police encounters and individuals with mental health disorders: Training imperatives: Proper departmental training and officer implementation of best practices ensures those encounters with individuals in mental crisis end safely and not as another headline.

“Grateful to be alive”: Clubhouse programs take pressure off overwhelmed Texas mental health hospitals: Thousands of people are discharged from Texas mental health hospitals yearly, and so-called step-down programs like clubhouses can help them integrate back into the community.

'It takes all of us': Helping understand Lubbock's mental health system: While Lubbock has numerous facilities and personnel to help individuals maintain a healthy mental health condition, a mental health crisis could come with or without warning.

Mobile Mental Health Unit in the works for the area: The conversation around mental health has been at the forefront since the pandemic with experts across the country looking for more solutions to provide better care. Local entities in Wichita Falls have been working together to possibly fix that need in the community.

Missouri City submits grant application for crisis intervention team: Missouri City City Council approved submitting an application for a Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS, Promoting Access to Crisis Teams Grant to fund creating a crisis intervention team for two years.

Houston homeless population reporting more mental illness than national average: Over a third of individuals who experienced homelessness in the Greater Houston area reported mental illness in 2023; however, state data shows mental health resources aren’t being used by most experiencing homelessness.

Hutchins police officer declares "Jesus" to get child from father having mental health crisis: Kenneth Knotts's family is suing the UT Southwestern Hospital Police for his death after he was brought to the hospital after a mental health crisis at a Love's Truckstop.

This high-security juvenile detention center in North Texas just became a foster home for dogs: Sixteen youths and up to six dogs live in what they call the BARK dorm. BARK stands for Building Attachment and Resilience K-9. 

Bexar County addresses a 33% rise in suicide rates with wellness conference: The Center for Health Care Services hosted its 'behavioral health and wellness conference' for anyone in need of services ranging from 'substance use' and recovery, to youth mental health and more.

Harris County Mental Health Program faces uncertain future amid financial concerns: Harris County Commissioners have placed in indefinite limbo a program aimed at lightening the burden on police by delivering mental health services in non-emergency, non-violent scenarios across the community.

Governor Abbott Announces Over $44 Million In Grants To Serve Veterans And Their Families: This is the largest amount of grant funding awarded in the history of the TVC and is anticipated to serve more than 41,000 veterans and their families.

Tarrant County, Texas, Funds Mental Health Alert System: The software will integrate with existing case management systems and help identify defendants with mental illness or intellectual disabilities. It will ensure the county meets state law mandating such defendants be identified early.

Greater Longview Optimal Wellness program receives $5M grant: The goal of the program is for people to properly utilize medical providers and have access to those services instead of having to call 911 or visit an emergency room.

San Antonio mental health response program in middle of rapid expansion: The SA CORE pilot program began in spring 2022, now it's citywide and soon-to-be 24/7.

HCSO: Deputy shoots man who charged at him with metal baseball bat in north Harris County: A woman called 911 and said her 30-year-old son was possibly going through a mental health crisis and was causing problems. 

Potter County agrees to establish Panhandle Regional Veterans Treatment Court: This will give veterans who are facing criminal charges in neighboring counties the treatment needed, and have their mental health care taken over by the Potter County Courts.

Comal County deputy shoots armed man during mental health episode: Officials said the man was having a mental episode when he pulled out a handgun. A deputy pulled out his weapon and fired, hitting the man.

Travis County mental health diversion program ready to launch: The Mental Health Diversion Pilot Program in Travis County is a step closer to launching after a May 14th Commissioners meeting.

Patients can move into the new Austin State Hospital summer 2024, officials say: State and local leaders celebrated the completion of the new Austin State Hospital, which took years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build. 

Collaborative partnership to assist mental health needs: Project Opportunity, which was funded by a $25,000 grant from Bank of America, is a collaborative partnership that will allow Texas Tech Health El Paso physician residents to provide services to community members at the Opportunity Center using remote video technology starting in June.

Texas A&M professor leads mental health training initiative in South Bexar County: The South Bexar County Mental Health Awareness Project focuses on training educators at all levels to recognize signs of mental health struggles in students. 

Governor Abbott Appoints Six To Governing Board Of The Texas Indigent Defense Commission: Hon. J.R. Woolley of Waller is a justice of the peace for Waller County and a JCMH Commissioner. 

Family of mentally ill man wants answers about his death in Tarrant County Jail custody: On Feb. 14, 63-year-old Harold Kent Roberts died at the jail after experiencing a “medical emergency” early that morning, the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

West Texas Centers Provides Resources For Mental Health: West Texas Centers is celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month by calling attention to the numerous resources available for people living in their 23-county catchment area. 

East Texas institutions to receive flexible grants for mental health services: According to a release, the Hogg Foundation awarded their Reliable Flexible Funding for Mental Health and Well-being (RFF) grants for mental health organizations throughout Texas that are “historically under-resourced.”

Land Swap Helps Bring Mental Health Hospital to Amarillo: West Texas A&M University regents voted unanimously today to approve a land deal in Amarillo that will help to build the only state hospital for inpatient mental health care in the Panhandle.

KCBD Investigates The Mental Health Crisis: What to do when your loved one refuses to seek help: The Lubbock Police Department recognized the growing need for officers to have access to mental and behavioral health experts and learn more skills in areas like de-escalation.

East Texas summit emphasizes mental health treatment realities: In partnership with Andrews Center, the University of Texas at Tyler School of Medicine held the inaugural East Texas Mental Health Summit on May 7.

Commissioners get timeline about new mental health diversion center pilot program: Travis County's hospital district said expanding services should begin by October.

Man believed to have been experiencing mental health crisis when he allegedly shot at deputies, barricaded himself in home: The 40-year-old suspect now faces aggravated assault charges after the incident in San Antonio.

HHSC to Host Grand Opening Ceremony at Austin State Hospital May 15: The Texas Legislature and Gov. Greg Abbott approved approximately $305 million in funding to construct the new hospital.

Mental illness, understaffing challenge Texas jails: Texas jail and mental health authorities have struggled for years to move people found incompetent to stand trial from jails to state hospitals for competency restoration.

HHSC Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Brenham State Supported Living Center: The Brenham State School opened in 1974 with about 300 employees and 400 beds. Since then, the facility has transitioned from serving mostly children with intellectual disabilities to providing care to adults.

‘Take action.’ Advocates urge release of Tarrant County inmate with mental health issues: A doctor’s evaluation filed in January found that Kaiyere Campbell lacked “sufficient present ability to consult with defense counsel with a reasonable degree of rational understanding” and/or “a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings” against him.

DA wants mental health records for Melissa Perez, San Antonio mother shot dead by police: Perez, 46, was killed June 23 at her Southwest Side apartment. Family members said she was schizophrenic. Two ex-SAPD officers are charged with murder in her death, a third with aggravated assault.

Brazos County Commissioners Asked To Recruit A Mental Health Facility: A local attorney who represents children in the Texas child protective services system asks Brazos County commissioners how he and others can do to get a local mental health facility.

Texas’ Mental Health Court Programs (podcast): Rocky Dhir talks with Judge Brent Carr about his long years of service in the Tarrant County Mental Health Court, which had the overarching goal of improving outcomes for people with mental illness impacted by Texas’ justice system.

East Texas Mental Health Summit aims to address mental health disparities: Organizers' goals are to address the rising suicide rates in East Texas and to bring people together to talk about mental health.

Hogg Foundation for Mental Health provides grants to Fort Worth, Arlington area mental health organizations: The foundation will invest $5 million over 5 years in reliable, flexible funding to multiple historically under-resourced community-based mental health organizations.

Governor Abbott Announces $34 Million Behavioral Health Campus Project In Uvalde: Governor Greg Abbott today announced a $34 million project to build a behavioral health campus in Uvalde dedicated to providing on-site care to children and adults experiencing mental health crises in 32 counties in the surrounding area. 

Lawsuit names 4 UT Southwestern police officers sued over in-custody death: Kenneth Knotts, an Austin resident, was taken to UT Southwestern Nov. 29, 2022 after city of Hutchins police determined he was suffering a mental health crisis while stopped on the side of the road with a flat tire.

Montgomery County facility for people with disabilities plans $2.5M expansion: The long-standing Montgomery County community Bridgewood Farms for teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities is moving forward with a new leader and renewed vision for its future.

HHSC to Host Community Information Session on $452 Million Construction Project at North Texas State Hospital – Wichita Falls: The new hospital will feature state-of-the-art therapeutic spaces in a secure environment for patients and will have separate spaces for adult and adolescent patients. 

Family of man killed in SWAT incident says he was suffering from mental health crisis: The sister of the suspect killed in a SWAT standoff in West El Paso last week said her brother was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was suffering from a mental health crisis. 

Lawsuit filed against Llano County, LCSO in shooting death of man having ‘mental health crisis’: A lawsuit was recently filed against the Llano County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) in connection with a response to an October 2022 mental health call that led to the death of Justin Harrod. 

Facility designed for individuals with intellectual, developmental disabilities benefits Orange County: Spindletop Center opened its new sensory room designed for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities; it a space with special equipment designed to help an individual with sensory challenges learn strategies to cope with external stimuli.

Montgomery County courts begin new mental health graduation program: County Court-At-Law 4 serves as the base for the mental health treatment court for Montgomery County. The court handles individuals who have committed criminal conduct but have been identified as having significant mental health issues that contributed to the conduct.

Mental illness issues draw attention at recent workshop, commissioners meeting (Hunt County): Members of the North Texas Behavioral Health Authority conducted a workshop attended by local mental health providers, school officials, police and criminal justice officials, Texas Department of Health and Human Services staff and others involved in mental health issues in Hunt County.

Texas opens new psychiatric hospital in San Antonio: State officials opened the doors recently to a new psychiatric hospital in San Antonio, replacing an aging facility and increasing capacity.

Texas is struggling to diversify its mental health workforce as the state becomes less white: Despite the nation’s growing diversity, the mental health workforce is still predominantly white and English-speaking.

What’s needed to make a diversion center successful? (Travis County): Law enforcement, prosecutors and elected officials point to the creation of a diversion center as a solution to address crime related to mental health and homelessness.


Materials published on the JCMH website are helpful reports and resources for judges and attorneys handling cases regarding persons with mental illness and/or IDD and are intended for reference use only. They are not legal advice, and may not represent the official opinion of the JCMH.

The inclusion of external links are not endorsements by the JCMH of the content of the websites, or of their policies, services or opinions of the organization or individual. The JCMH reserves the right to decline requests for the addition of external resources.