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The Jail's Mental-Health Issues To Get An Airing

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Several candidates in upcoming Harris County political races are meeting for a

forum

on Tuesday to talk about mental illness and the Harris County Jail. If you don't think the jail can be rough for a mentally ill inmate, check out

"Gone to Hell,"

this week's

Houston Press

cover story.

Harris County Sheriff's candidate Adrian Garcia, who spoke with us last week, is scheduled to appear at the event. Sheriff Tommy Thomas was invited to speak but he hasn't confirmed if he will. (We've asked his campaign, but haven't gotten an answer.)

"We have seen too many cases where the interactions between law enforcement and the mentally ill results in a tragedy," Garcia said. "We cannot allow ourselves to be paralyzed by the issue and do nothing. It's hard to lay blame, but it does need someone willing to sit down and go through the difficult and very complicated conversations on what can we do."

According to a press release for New Voice, one of the organizations putting on the forum, the candidates will be "offering solutions to the unacceptable percentage of Harris County jail inmates who have behavioral health problems."

"You've got a medical condition that is giving a lot of people criminal careers and it's not really their fault," Garcia said. "It's something that needs a lot of dialogue."

The event starts at 6 p.m. at the United Way of Greater Houston.

-- Paul Knight

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