Jail Inreach Project
The Jail Inreach Project began in 2007 in collaboration with The Harris Center for Mental health and IDD and the Harris County Sheriff's Office. The goal of this program is to provide case management and pre-release planning for continuity of care for those who are homeless and incarcerated in the Harris County Jail. This helps ensure that, upon release, individuals do not have to face lapses in medical and mental health treatment. This reduces rearrest rates by providing intervention strategies that include treatment plans and continuity of care post release.
At any given time, nearly 25% of county jail inmates are diagnosed with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, major depression and bipolar disorder, compared to 5% in the general population. Those with severe mental illness have nearly twice the number of legal charges against them as those without.
Roughly, 2,400 inmates in the county jail are taking prescribed psychotropic medication, making it the largest provider of mental health services in the state of Texas. Lack of access to and continuity of care post-release to avoid treatment lapses perpetuates homelessness by creating systems where people become entrenched in a cycle between the streets/shelters, hospital emergency centers and jail – the “revolving door phenomenon.” The cost to the county attributable to the increased rearrest rates of those diagnosed with mental illness individuals exceeds $27 million per year, according to a 2011 New York Times article.