Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $550,000)
West Texas Centers (WTC) proposes to plan and implement a Community Collaboration Diversion Center for Howard County. WTC already organizes a robust Jail Diversion Committee with multiple stakeholder involvement in Howard County. Within this committee, it was recognized that a law enforcement Diversion Center is needed to meet the growing needs of those involved in the criminal justice system that have serious mental illness (SMI) or substance use disorders (SUD). For Howard County and surrounding areas, the number of individuals that end up in the County Jail that have been identified as someone with an SMI is approximately 20 per month. Of those 20, 75% are non-violent public nuisance charges. Misdemeanor charges in Howard County take approximately 45 to 60 days for a court date. Unfortunately, most of the individuals with SMI do not have the financial resources to bond themselves out of jail. Therefore, about 15 individuals with SMI and misdemeanor charges are sitting in our County Jail just waiting for court, costing the county tens of thousands of dollars per month. Further, the individuals with SMI have an increased chance of decompensation, especially if they are placed in single cells. The Diversion Center proposes to allow intervention by jail diverting individuals with SMI and/or SUD to a more appropriate setting to follow through with linking and coordinating to resources in the community. Objectives include serving approximately 150-180 individuals from Howard and surrounding areas. The strategy is to allow for law enforcement who continually work with individuals with SMI/SUD and commit public nuisance charges, to have a place for them to complete a quick drop off. Then the trained staff at the Center would intervene with a psychosocial assessment to understand what are the immediate and long term MH/SUD needs are. ADD here WTC has partnered with Howard County Sheriffs Department and Howard County Judge to plan and implement previous collaboration programs; such as Mental Health Deputy Programs, Jail Contracts, and Jail Caseworker programs. WTC also is a member of All Access Texas which focuses on strategies to divert people with mental illness from the criminal justice system. Outcomes include reducing the number of people with mental illness in our county jails and/or in crisis, reducing the number of people with mental illness in our ERs due to crisis, improving the relationships among community stakeholders, improving the relationships between law enforcement and people with mental illness, improving the lives of people with mental illness overall, increasing stable housing situations.