The San Antonio Approach to Diverting the Mentally Ill Away from Incarceration
Date:  12-27-2016

Texas City is hailed as model for fixing broken mental health system
From The Boston Globe

The seventh and final installment of "The Desperate and the Dead" focuses on solutions for the mental health crisis in Massachusetts. Fifteen years ago, the city of San Antonio and surrounding Bexar County, Texas, committed to fixing their mental health care system. The result? A creative, constantly evolving treatment and jail diversion program that's widely considered a national model. Their collaborative, integrated approach has reduced the jail population, cut downtown homelessness, trained thousands of law enforcement officers in crisis response, and saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Massachusetts could learn a lot from San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO — It’s 11 p.m. on a Thursday, and this sprawling, twinkling city of 1.5 million people feels bigger than ever. The 911 call transcript has just come across a laptop mounted on the dash of the police SUV: suicide-in-progress, northwest side.

A woman in her late 20s tried to hang herself in her bedroom. Her boyfriend walked in just in time, pulled her down, and hog-tied her while he called for help.

James Williams and Jon Sabo, partners in the San Antonio Police Department’s mental health unit, are way across town, having diffused an earlier crisis. They carve through side streets, speed bumps thumping underneath. “It always feels like it’s forever to get there on a call like this,” Williams says from the driver’s seat. Continue reading >>>

Read the full series The Desperate and the Dead here.