In Dallas County our public hospital system, Parkland Health and Hospital System, provides medical services for the County Jails.
Recently, I participated in a panel discussion at the Dallas County Commissioners Court regarding housing and homelessness.
One aspect of the presentation shocked me.
Dallas County operates the 7th largest jail system in the United States.
Currently, our jails “house” 1,270 inmates who have been diagnosed with mental illness.
Of these folks, 272 have been determined to be homeless.
Sixty-four of these persons take psychotropic medications, or they should, to manage their illness.
One hundred-twenty-seven are addicted to some sort of drug.
Is it just me, or doesn’t it seem logical and much more humane that these men and women might do better if they were placed in an environment other than jail?
Of course, Texas ranks 48th and 49th respectively in mental health and addiction treatment services. I guess with so little funding available, we've just decided as a community that jail is as good a place as any for the “throwaways” in our population.
But, we are compassionate here, please don’t lose sight of that fact!
Maybe this is something we could pray about this weekend in church, temple and mosque.
What do you think?