When the Mentally Ill Are Arrested In Texas


Texas criminal defense attorneyIt’s always tough to find out that a family member or friend has been arrested. But it can be especially difficult when that friend or family member is struggling with mental illness.  

Law enforcement is not well-equipped to treat mentally ill offenders. Often, an arrest can turn into a downward spiral for someone who is mentally ill. Incarcerated people with mental illness are at a higher risk of being sexually abused than those without mental health issues, according to a recent NPR report that cites federal data. If isolated to avoid contact with an abuser, the inmate’s mental illness may worsen, research finds.  

The United States has a sizeable population of inmates who experience mental illness: 

  • About 500,000 people in the U.S. are incarcerated.  
  • More than 40 percent of jail inmates have been told by a mental health professional at some point in their lives they have mental illness.  
  • Twenty-five percent of jail inmates meet the threshold for having serious psychological distress, but only one-third of them receive treatment for the condition. 

What type of help is available for mentally ill people who are arrested?

Some people with serious mental illness end up in and out of the criminal justice system. The jails in effect become a community’s largest mental health facility. But unlike hospitals, jails are not equipped to offer proper access to medication and treatment. A mentally ill inmate who experiences an episode related to schizophrenia or another condition may end up in isolation. 

Recognizing the problem, many county jails in the United States are increasing mental health screening efforts and taking steps to get inmates treatment after they are released. The jails are working with mental health facilities, which research has found is an effective way to help inmates. 

Efforts are under way to reduce the number of inmates who are dealing with mental health issues. The Stepping Up Initiative was started in 2015 to reduce that number. More than 450 counties have passed resolutions to join the national initiative, launched by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, the National Association of Counties and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. 

What to do if your friend or loved one is arrested

Every day, someone with mental illness is arrested. And often, the person is back before a judge because they did not receive proper treatment for their condition.  

We have represented a range of people charged with crimes, including those with mental illness. People struggling with mental illness need treatment for their condition, not incarceration.  

Contact us today for a consultation today if you, a friend or loved one has a mental illness and was arrested. Learn more about how we can help protect your rights. 

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