Sheriff Testifies in Washington

The Congressional spotlight shines brightly on Bexar County–and it’s efforts at handling mentally ill criminals.

“This is personal for me too–my own brother was mentally ill” Sheriff Susan Pamerleau told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a Wednesday Morning hearing.

The Sheriff also told the Senators there are many, many important reasons to close what is a revolving door at America’s jails for so many who are mentally ill today.

“Had we identified them early–the first time–think about the human capital we could have saved” Pamerleau said.

Senator John Cornyn is a believer in the changes that have been made here.

“It’s not a matter of politics, it’s not big egos… it’s people working together to try to address a real problem and make an important difference” Cornyn said, pointing to what’s been happening in Bexar County.

“That model for mental health treatment has become a beacon of success” Cornyn said.

Still, the Senator–who has introduced a federal reform measure based in large part on the system in Bexar County–said there is so much more to be done.

“Experts estimate there are between 300-thousand and 500-thousand mentally ill individuals locked up in prisons and jails” Cornyn said.

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