Travis County judge discusses priorities for 2023

TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas — Travis County Judge Andy Brown was just reelected to his second term, and he and the county have a lot of work ahead of them in 2023.

Judge Brown says the biggest problem Travis County faces as we turn the calendar and start the new year is the fact that not only does the prison population continue to rise, but the percentage of people in prison with unfulfilled mental health needs has more than doubled since before COVID.

“According to our measurement it was 21% and now it is 45%. And I think we’re seeing the impact of that everywhere,” Justice Brown said InsideTexas Politics. “We’re seeing that with fentanyl and opioid overdose deaths, which are increasing. We see that with crime and the need for other services.”

Travis County plans to build a mental health diversion center, and Judge Brown and other county leaders are traveling the country looking for ideas.

Judge Brown tells us he’s particularly interested in the models used in Nashville, TN and Miami, FL. He says that Nashville, for example, placed their facility next to the prison so they get a mental health assessment before anyone is even committed.

“They have to address mental health needs and if you do that once they’re in prison you’re totally missing the point,” Judge Brown said. Travis County judge discusses priorities for 2023

Laura Coffey

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