Mental illness increases in Texas juvenile detention centers
Posted By Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass || 27-Feb-2013
There has been much debate around the juvenile justice system in Texas, especially regarding the safety and effectiveness of the state's juvenile detention centers. One main reason safety has been an issue at these detention centers is the number of juvenile offenders who are involved in gangs.
While violence has continued to be reported at Texas juvenile detention centers, a new report shows a different safety issue that needs to be addressed by juvenile justice officials. In the previous years, many juvenile offenders were associated with gangs. Now, there are more juvenile offenders with a mental illness than gang members housed in detention centers in Texas.
Juvenile offenders with a mental illness have increased by 56 percent in 2013, according to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. In 2012, 50 percent of juvenile offenders had a mental illness and only 39 percent of offenders had a mental illness in 2007.
The increase of juveniles with mental illnesses has increased significantly during the past few years in detention centers in Texas. This should be a concern for detention centers as well as the Juvenile Justice Department because it is their responsibility to protect the individuals sentenced to their facilities.
One reason the number of juvenile offenders with a mental illness has increased could be that there is more awareness regarding mental illness and the importance of diagnosing and treating the illness instead of just locking offenders up in state prison.
Unfortunately, this is still happening to some juvenile offenders. The Texas Juvenile Justice Department said they sent 1,073 juveniles to state jails in 2012. Sending juvenile offenders, especially those with mental illnesses to state prisons, could be very dangerous because they need mental health treatment and may not be receiving the proper care in state jails.
The director of the Juvenile Justice Department said that many juvenile offenders need more care and treatment than they did in previous years and that the department needs to change their budget to help address the needs of juvenile offenders with mental illnesses.
Source: News-Journal, "Mental illness up at Texas youth facilities," Feb. 15, 2013
Categories: Juvenile Crimes