The nation’s fourth largest jail resides in Harris County, with a population of about 9,000 inmates. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) says a quarter of those inmates suffer from some form of mental illness.
To help alleviate a slew of problems that come with over-jailing or over-hospitalizing people who have a mental illness, the sheriff’s department unveiled a Telepsychiatry pilot program. Since its launch in December, the program has garnered attention from California to Canada. Harris County officials believe it’s one of the first programs of its kind, if not the first program of its kind.
The new initiative connects deputies in the field with counselors and psychiatrists on iPads.