TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — Travis County Judge Andy Brown was just re-elected to his second term and he and the county have a lot of work ahead in 2023.
Judge Brown says the biggest problem facing Travis County as we turn the calendar and start the new year is the fact that not only is the jail population continuing to surge, but also that the percentage of people in jail with unmet mental health needs has more than doubled since pre-COVID.
“It was 21% by our measure and now it’s 45%. And I think we’re seeing the repercussions of that everywhere,” Judge Brown said on Inside Texas Politics. “We’re seeing that in fentanyl and opioid overdose deaths that are increasing. We’re seeing that in crime and needs for other services.”
Travis County is looking to build a Mental Health Diversion Center and Judge Brown and other county leaders are traveling the country for ideas.
Judge Brown tells us he’s particularly interested in the models being used in Nashville, TN and Miami, FL. He says Nashville, for instance, placed their facility next door to the jail, so before someone is even booked in, they receive a mental health assessment.
“You need to address the mental health need and doing so once they’re in jail just misses it entirely,” Judge Brown said.
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