AUSTIN — Lieutenant. Governor David Dewhurst announced Interim Charges relating to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice. "The state of medical and mental health care within the prison system presents an opportunity for Texas to improve a process that could ultimately save money and reduce the rate of repeat offenders while better protecting public safety," said Dewhurst. "Texas has always been tough on crime and these charges can make us even smarter on crime. I look forward to the findings of the Criminal Justice Committee on efforts to make the system more efficient for all Texans."
Lt. Governor Dewhurst issued the following charges to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice:
HEALTH WITHIN THE PRISON SYSTEM. Lt. Governor Dewhurst asked the committee to study the operations of the Texas prison system with respect to the medical and mental health care treatment and the potential cost savings associated with identifying offenders with dual diagnoses and routing these individuals into appropriate services before, during, and after involvement with the criminal justice system. Dewhurst also asked the committee to study the way in which geriatric parole cases are currently evaluated and identify opportunities for reducing costs associated with the geriatric inmate population without compromising public safety.
JAIL DIVERSION FOR MENTALLY ILL. Additionally, Lt. Governor Dewhurst instructed the committee to study and make recommendations related to jail diversion, reduced recidivism rates, and access to services for those within the system who suffer from a mental illness. He also instructed the committee to monitor the progress and implementation of the jail diversion pilot program for the mentally ill in Harris County and determine the best practices to be applied statewide. '
"In Texas, no stone is left unturned when it comes to protecting Texans and their tax-dollars," concluded Dewhurst. "Smart, conservative leadership has proved time and time again that the routine appraisal of our statewide systems only leads to a stronger economy, and we plan to extend that Texas Miracle through every level of state government, including our prison system."