San Antonio Offers a Model for Criminal Justice and Mental Health Reform

Reporters for Spotlight, the Boston Globe‘s famed investigatory unit, spent several months examining the mental health system in Massachusetts.  They found many familiar problems in their state and a success story in an unlikely place: San Antonio, Texas.

Click here for their story “San Antonio became a national leader in mental health care by working together as a community.”

It took decades of hard work by leaders in the mental health and criminal justice systems to produce what is termed “the San Antonio model.”  Here is a description from the article of the result.

“This coalition in San Antonio has built a crisis center for psychiatric and substance abuse emergencies and a 22-acre campus for the homeless that resembles a community college. To date, more than 100,000 people have been diverted from jail and emergency rooms to treatment, local officials say, resulting in a savings of nearly $100 million over an eight-year period.  Thousands of emergency responders in San Antonio and Bexar County have been trained to manage mental health crises.”

MOSES, the interfaith organization, presented the model to the task group on mental health and criminal justice appointed by the Dane County Board of Supervisors.  There are obvious differences between Bexar and Dane Counties, but the article provides many good ideas about how we can move forward to address long-standing problems.

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