P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2009
FORT WORTH -- A special legislative panel today heard testimony on possible modifications to the criminal commitment process for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Senator Jane Nelson and Representative Patrick Rose are co-chairmen of the Interim Select Committee on Criminal Commitments of Individuals with Mental Retardation.
"We must ensure that our criminal justice system is appropriately identifying, treating and placing individuals with mental retardation while maintaining the integrity of our court system," said Senator Nelson, R-Flower Mound.
This 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 committee 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; and
- 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 committee heard invited testimony from officials with the court system, state-supported living centers and state hospitals, and advocates for persons with developmental disabilities. Public testimony also was received.
An audio recording of the hearing will be available at noon Tuesday, Nov. 3 at the Senate's website; http://www.senate.state.tx.us/avarchive.