Tuesday, September 22, 2009

SB 1557 Clarification from Dee Wilson

A reader forwarded an email to me originally transmitted by Lee Johnson of the Texas Council of Community MHMR Centers:

As many of you are aware, April Zamora of TCOOMMI gave a presentation at the Behavioral Health Consortium Thursday, September 10, 2009 on the changes brought to Art.16.22, Code of Criminal Procedure.

She affirmed that Art. 16.22 has been in statute since 1994 as a tool for identifying and beginning treatment for an alleged offender with mental illness who has been jailed following arrest. The article requires a sheriff to provide notice to a magistrate within 72 hours of receiving evidence that an offender has a mental illness. If there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant has a mental illness, the magistrate orders the local mental health authority to collect information to determine if a mental illness exist.

In an attempt to improve the screening in the jails, as required by Art. 16.22, the Texas Legislature passed SB 1009, Sunset legislation for the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS), which contained an amendment requiring TCJS to develop a set of risk factors to use in assessing the overall risk level of each jail. Among the 9 risk factors is whether the jail is in compliance with Art. 16.22.

Attached, please find a bulletin by Dee Wilson of TCOOMMI for the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. As Dee points out, the current process for conducting mental health and competency assessments have not been changed but does put in plain language a process for collecting that information and passing it along.

Here is the attachment.

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