Judge Steve Leifman and Leon Evans will discuss cutting-edge community programs developed as part of the national “Stepping Up Initiative” at the seminar.
Bexar County (San Antonio, TX) Resources
Hundreds of law enforcement professionals from across the U.S. raised their hands to answer a simple question on Monday: “How many in this group (have) a story – either personal or (professional) – about confronting somebody with a mental health problem?” National Sheriff’s Association Director Jonathan Thompson asked.
A Bexar County specialty court that deals with the mental health needs of girls has received a national award for its innovation and effectiveness serving adolescents in the justice system.
Dr. Tony Fabelo is the Director of the Research Division of The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and is helping provide the momentum needed to make necessary changes in the justice system for individuals with mental illness. Working from the Austin office of the CSG Justice Center, he provides technical assistance to state and local governments to help make more efficient use of state and local taxpayer dollars.
“We can change all the forms we want, and we can pass all the new laws we want, but if we don’t change the attitude and culture of the jail system, then we will still have the same problem,” said Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston.
“It seems that there was an issue with the follow-through on the initial assessment,” said Dr. Tony Fabelo, director of research for the Council of State Governments Justice Center. Fabelo led off testimony before the first hearing of the Texas Senate Committee on Criminal Justice into ways to prevent future jail suicides.
The Texas Indigent Defense Commission—chaired by Sharon Keller, presiding judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals—unanimously approved a $600,000 grant to be dispersed over four years for the Bexar County (San Antonio) Public Defender’s Office to provide attorneys at the initial court hearings of people who are indigent and have mental illnesses.
The San Antonio police’s strategy for responding to calls involving people who are mentally ill is being hailed as a national model amid rising anger over police brutality toward and high incarceration rates of people with mental health issues.
The effort, dubbed “Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails,” follows the rise in the number of people with mental disorders booked into local jails, now estimated to top two million annually.
Salt Lake County has enlisted experts to undertake a yearlong study of the county’s criminal justice system.
Since the landmark Gideon Supreme Court case 50 years ago, it has been the law of the land that poor people accused of serious crimes have access to defense representation.
District Attorney Susan Reed of Bexar County, Texas has been appointed to the Council of State Governments Justice Center’s (CSG Justice Center) Board of Directors.
Earlier this year, Bexar County (City of San Antonio), Texas was selected to serve as a County Justice and Behavioral Health Systems Demonstration Site.