MHMR of Tarrant County: Mental health jail diversion center operating well so far

MHMR of Tarrant County: mental health jail diversion center operating well so far
Photo credit Pornpak Khunatorn/Getty Images

Tarrant County's new mental health jail diversion center has been open for a couple of months now, and leaders say operations have been going well so far.

The jail diversion center is operated by My Health My Resources of Tarrant County, and it is staffed in part by seven Tarrant County sheriff's deputies.

Its purpose is to keep offenders of low-level crimes, such as trespassing, out of jail and to give them the help and resources that no jail facility could ever offer them.

For the officers bringing the suspects to the diversion center, that means they can return to their beats sooner.

In an update to the Commissioners Court Tuesday afternoon, MHMR CEO Susan Garnett says so far, everyone who has been brought to the diversion center has been homeless.

"We don't know if that's the officers who are identifying people initially choosing people who they think really really need these kinds of supports, or if we could anticipate for the future that will be primarily homeless people," Garnett said. "We just don't really know that at this point."


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As the diversion center worked out any kinks to its system, police departments in Fort Worth and Arlington were excluded from the program; but now, they're able to participate

Garnett says some of the people brought to the center have been able to benefit from its partnership with JPS.

"There have been occasions where people arrive at the diversion center, but they really need more medical care," Garnett said. "We establish that during the initial assessment, and we're able to move people over to JPS."

Participation in the diversion center's programs is voluntary.

"If somebody arrives and they, on reflection when they've arrived, decide they do not want to remain in the facility, they don't have to remain in the facility," Garnett said; "and, in fact, we would have no mechanism to really require that they continue to stay in the facility."

The center is becoming a model for other communities

"We actually have visitors coming from Lubbock next week," Garnett said. "I think there are 20 people coming from Lubbock to take a look at it, because they anticipate a center like this also."

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Pornpak Khunatorn/Getty Images