Viral Newz

Thousands waiting in jail for state hospital beds, is help coming?


AUSTIN (KXAN) – Officials with a Health and Human Services Commission advisory committee meet Wednesday to discuss chronic problems in the Texas’ mental hospital system, which has been plagued by understaffing and has lost roughly a third of its bed capacity, according to state data.

With available state hospital beds full, thousands of people found incompetent to stand trial and ordered to the hospitals for treatment have been placed on a waitlist that can last years. Officials with the HHSC advisory committee – the Joint Committee on Access and Forensic Services, or JCAFS – have said the system is in emergency and crisis. Some have questioned whether the National Guard should be called in to assist.

As of December, there were 2,545 people on the state hospital waitlist. It was taking an average of 699 days to admit people to maximum-security beds and 227 days for non-maximum-security spots, according to committee data.

Mental health and legal experts, like attorney Keith Hampton, say more needs to be done immediately.

The legislature convened this month and will consider bills that could improve the situation, including one brought by Hampton to a Central Texas lawmaker that could set a three-week deadline for transferring people out of jails.

KXAN will be watching the JCAFS meeting, and we will report updates later in the day.


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