P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 24, 2009
AUSTIN — Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has been appointed to co-chair the Interim Select Committee on Criminal Commitments of Individuals with Mental Retardation, a panel studying the criminal commitment process for individuals with developmental disabilities.
"We need to find the best method of appropriately dealing with the offender population and their special legal needs, while also ensuring the safety of non-offender residents of our state supported living centers," said Senator Nelson, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
This select committee was created by SB 643, Senator Nelson's bill that strengthens protections for Texans with developmental disabilities living in state supported living centers. The panel will study the criminal commitment process for individuals found incompetent to stand trial or acquitted by reason of insanity, including:
- advantages and disadvantages of the existing system of criminal commitments of individuals with mental retardation or dual diagnoses of mental retardation and mental illness
- number of people committed annually and the number found to be violent or dangerous through the commitment process
- whether the commitment process should be modified to provide for the commitment of individuals found to be violent to a state-supported living center instead of a state hospital, and associated costs with making the changes
The co-presiding officer is Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, chairman of the House Human Services Committee. Other panel members are: Senate Criminal Justice Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston; Senate State Affairs Chairman Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock; House Criminal Jurisprudence Chairman Pete Gallego, D-Alpine; and House Public Health Chairman Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham.