The Bexar County Commissioners have agreed to spend some $2 million trying to keep people who suffer from mental illness out of the Bexar County Jail, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Judge Nelson Wolff has repeatedly expressed his concern with the idea that 'locking up,' for example, domestic abusers is the best way to deal with the problem. He says considering that at leat 70% of cases of child abuse and spousal or intimate partner abuse stem from drug abuse and mental illness, in many ways putting perpetrators in jail is the least positive outcome, and they actually come out worse people than when they went in.
Commissioner Justin Rodriguez says not only will this program make it easier for people to get the mental health treatment they need, which cannot be adequately delivered in a jail environment, but it will reduce chronic overcrowding in the Bexar County Jail, and will free up jail resources for criminals who need to be incarcerated.
"If I had a crystal ball, I think we will have a continued need to add more bed space," he said. "So I think we need to figure out the best way to do that."
The County is working with the Center for Health Care Services to provide the mental health treatment. programs.
Rodriguez says expanding mental health facility space would be a better investment than continuing to warehouse perpetrators in the county jail.
"I know it is going to cost money, but I think it is an investment that we have to make," he said.