For years, sheriffs and disability rights groups have complained about the lack of treatment for the growing number of mentally ill inmates in Texas. Now, state legislators are considering a bill that would allow private companies to offer mental health services to inmates.
Propose Changes For Mental Health Care In Texas Prisons
Brandi Grissom of The Texas Tribune reports that the House Bill, and its Senate counterpart proposed by has Sen. Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) sets out guidelines for a program that would allow private mental health providers to work in select jails and help inmates return to a stable mental health state so they could stand trial.
Proposed Changes For General Health Care In Texas Prisons
The focus on mental health in Texas prisons comes as other lawmakers are looking into expanding options for general health care for inmates. Right now, two medical schools provide health care for Texas prisoners (The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center) but no private, for-profit vendors. As Mike Ward of the American Statesman reports, Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire (D-Houston) is proposing that the number of medical schools allowed to participate in the management of the prison health care system expand -- from two to eight. That doesn't mean the new schools would begin serving inmates, but Ward reports some prison health officials worry Whitmire's proposal could result in private companies moving in to offer health care in state prisons for the first time.