ages in mental health care providers and bed space. Holmes, chairman of the Judicial Criminal Justice Coordinating Advisory Council, said the county has “streamlined and organized [its] jail screening process” in relation to mental health. Mallia, who accepted the task from Henry to create a mental health court in Galveston County, said support for the project has been overwhelming, with the commissioners’ court giving its approval unanimously. The mental health court will handle certain cases involving individuals suffering from bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Current plans are for the mental health court to begin operation in January or February of next year. Cornyn commended Mallia and Henry on the creation of the new court. “I used to be a little skeptical of specialty courts, but not anymore. I mean, we have veteran’s courts, we have drug courts, we have
mental health courts, and I think that’s because our that what — the issues that we have to deal with are a lot more complex than they used to be in the — maybe in the old days where all you needed judges to do was, you know, bang down a gavel and make a decision,” Cornyn said. Castro said the county has made progress in the past on mental health despite the significant road ahead, with the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office having one of the first mental health divisions in the state of Texas and a successful program of training officers to handle situations involving individuals suffering from mental illness. “We have a very good intake — very good intake. We have people who respond to the crisis and everything else but the services that come after that are not in place,” Castro said. Lack of in-county services for mental health patients is a problem shared by both Galveston and Brazoria counties. Despite both counties having populations of over
“I used to be a little skeptical of specialty courts, but not anymore. I mean, we have veteran’s courts, we have drug courts, we have mental health courts, and I think that’s because our-that what — the issues that we have to deal with are a lot more complex than they used to be in the — maybe in the old days where all you needed judges to do was, you know, bang down a gavel and make a decision.” John Cornyn U.S. Senator 300,000 and being home to cities of over 100,000, neither county has an inpatient healthcare facility or drop-off point where patients can then be transported by a shuttle service. All individuals suffering from mental illness encountered by law enforcement officials in these two counties must be transported by county personnel to facilities in Houston. One of our biggest challenges is that we have no inpatient beds in Galveston County,” Castro said. Hale agreed with Castro that the distance to any proper facilities was a major challenge for law enforcement within the county when a person is determined to be a danger to themselves or others. He said many subjects suffering from mental illness
“I, along with every other county jail in the United States, run the worst mental healthcare facility that you could possibly run. We’d be on 60 Minutes if we weren’t the county government for running a terrible operation.” Mark Henry Galveston County judge
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encountered by law enforcement in Galveston are taken to jail to ensure they are given their proper medication and the opportunity to see a mental health professional. “The closest hospital I can go to is 50 miles away,” Hale said. Galveston County is currently in its second year of a justice system modernization project that began after a system assessment in 2017. An infographic created for Friday’s meeting said improvements that can be made immediately are the creation of the mental health court, severely mentally ill individuals being released on personal bonds for services at a mental health authority, assisted outpatient treatment and an enhanced pretrial department.