Welcome to the Harris County Mental Health Jail Diversion Program (SB 1185). Our primary objective is to ensure that people with mental health issues and co-occurring substance use receive the appropriate treatment and support to reduce the likelihood of re-incarceration. Thank you for taking the time to learn about our program and other available resources in Harris County.
Jail Diversion Program
In 2013, the 83rd Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1185 and provided Harris County with funding for the Mental Health Jail Diversion Program.
The program addresses a large complex problem that exists in every metropolitan area in America. The rise in the number of people with mental health issues in jail. This has become a major issue for Texas counties and cities from both a clinical and an economic standpoint. The majority of these individuals have not received the clinical and social services that are needed – services which would have very likely resulted in reducing involvement in the criminal justice system.
Criminal justice system (CJS) involvement includes arrest, booking, processing, court proceeding and incarceration. Collectively, this is the most expensive and least effective way to address the problems. Additionally the CJS costs are often increased by repeated arrests. Proper mental health services are much less costly and more successful. Currently, Texas does not have a service model to effectively treat people with mental health issues who frequently cycle through jail.
The legislation enabling the program was authored by State Senator Joan Huffman, a recognized leader in the State Senate on criminal justice issues. Senator John Whitmire, State Representative Senfronia Thompson, and Senator Charles Schwertner, were the House sponsors.