George Parnham, a criminal defense lawyer, wrote an article in the March 26, 2010 issue of the Houston Chronicle on the mental health pilot reform project, Houston Police Department’s Chronic Consumer Stabilization Initiative or CCSI, in Houston. The program, which began in February 2009, was established to provide more intensive case management for 30 individuals with a serious and persistent mental illness who have the most frequent encounters with HPD. The goal of the program was to divert chronic individuals from their damaging routines and provide them the means to a more stabilized life, with am emphasis on reduced use of 911 services.
Parnham, who represented Andrea Yates in her 2002 death penalty trial (Yates was originally found guilty of drowning her five children however her jury elected a life in prison sentence without the possibility of parole; on a later appeal Yates’ insanity resulted in a not guilty charge), is all too familiar with the damaging results which can result from the unattended to mentally ill. Parnham outlined HPD’s first report of the six-month CCSI pilot program, finding that involuntary commitments were reduced by 76.4%; service calls for the individuals in the program were down 67.3%, and the number of hours HPD officers spent dealing with these individuals was reduced by 33%- allowing the officers more time to better deal with other calls for service.
The Houston Chronicle article can be viewed in its entirety here.
For more information about the death penalty and mental illness visit here.