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Officials say inmates need to continue mental health treatment when they leave lockup

In a report just released, a local nonprofit says providing mental health peers for inmates leaving county jails in Texas would benefit the state’s taxpayers as well as the inmates.

Katharine Ligon, a mental health policy analyst with the Center for Public Policy Priorities, says they’ve looked at what other states are doing and how they use peers to support individuals transitioning from jail to the community, "So what we found is that 40 percent of all local county jails in Texas, these individuals have already received some type of mental illness services in their life. However, they are not getting continuity of services."

Ligon says peers would help former inmates maintain that continuity and get a job. She says the cost of housing an inmate in a Texas jail or prison ranges from 42 to 138 dollars a day, per inmate, compared to 12 dollars a day for community-based mental health services. She says other states using such services also show a much lower rate of recidivism.

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