After spending very many days in Harris County Jail, it was finally realized that Roderick Marshall was in the wrong place as there were inadequate beds for inmates who require mental health assistance.
But the 49-years-old Houston native had yet another place to waste even more days. Marshal had to spend six months, waiting to be admitted to the state mental hospital.
As someone with a mental problem, Marshal had to get the mental treatment so that he could rejoin the society.
He was just one among more than 500-inmates in Texas-based jails waiting for mental treatment at the already full state hospitals.
Averagely, 60-80 of the Harris County Jail inmates wait to be transferred for mental health treatment. The waiting process costs taxpayers approximately $295 per inmate, daily.
Since the mid-1990s, forensic bed spaces in the mental hospitals has reduced by almost 300. The last two years have recorded the worst increase in the waiting period in history.
Why Inmates Attend State Mental Health Hospitals?
These inmates must receive the treatment at the state hospital before being deemed fit for:
- Release to their homes
- Release to other outpatient facilities
- Standing for a trial.
Although the waitlist is usually served on the first-come-first-serve basis, those with severe offenses wait even longer—58-285 days. Marshal happens to be among them.
Beds for these type of inmates are comparatively fewer. Those in Class A and Class B misdemeanors spend around 60-70 days waiting, on average.
As one inmate says, this delay is comparable to housing a recovering drug addict with the current users.
Marshall’s began his legal struggle in 2014 when he mistakenly assaulted a neighbor, thinking that the neighbor was kidnapping his family.
At first, he was detained for quite some time. But he was found incompetent to be tried thus he was sent for treatment and later released on bond.
However, Marshall was rearrested a year later. In general, he has had a long history of:
- Mental health problems
- Drug abuse.
Although there have been legislative efforts to add some beds in recent years, a vast shortage is still being felt.
Reason Why the Current Situation Is Worsening: Mental Health
The current increase in the waiting list is due to:
- Increase in Texas’ general population.
- Increase in awareness about mental health problems by the criminal defendants and courts.
- Increase in the reception of less amenable patients to treatment and patients with more complex situation, thus requiring to stay quite long at state hospitals.
To solve the current pressing issue:
- Lawmakers have approved two new legislation that could back the war on recidivism by authorizing some jail-based competency restorations.
- Allocation of $10.3 million to increase forensic bed capacity in the hospital in Vernon.
- Allocation of $300 million for state hospital construction and repairs.
- The state is hiring beds from private psychiatric beds.
- The state is creating outpatient restoration programs for the low-risk offenders.
And after waiting for more than 6-month after the insanity plea, Marshall was eventually transferred to Vernon’s North Texas State Hospital on Sept. 19.