Texas County Preps Psych Facility
(08/17/2010)

CONROE, Texas — Montgomery County will construct a 100-bed secure psychiatric facility to house mentally ill offenders committed by state courts after county officials approved a contract with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

County commissioners approved the $7.5 million deal with the state as they prepared a bond issue to cover the estimated $33 million cost of the project, which is designed to address long-term overcrowding at two state psychiatric hospitals.

The initial agreement will cover operational costs and bond repayment for the first two quarters, while state lawmakers are expected to appropriate about $15 million to cover facility operations on an annual basis, according to reports.

Construction work already is under way on the new secure mental health facility, which is scheduled to come online in spring 2011 to close the shortage of forensic psychiatric beds that forces officials to house up to 250 mentally ill offenders out of state. The facility will be situated adjacent to the 1,287-bed Joe Corley Detention Facility, officials say.

The county-owned Corley jail houses state and federal inmates under the management of private prison operator GEO Group, which will also operate the new psychiatric facility for the county through the company's secure healthcare division, GEO Care, according to reports.

The new facility will serve offenders committed by state courts throughout the region, but it is not designed to handle high-security defendants. Once completed, the facility will act as a regional mental health treatment center for minimum-to medium-security offenders under commitment order from the courts.

Under the terms of the contract, the facility, which will be required gain accreditation from the state's Joint Commissioner of Health Care, will be licensed and monitored by the Department of State Health Services, officials say.

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