Study: 16 percent of Texas inmates mentally ill

SAN ANTONIO (AP) - A recent study says at least 16 percent of Texas inmates are mentally ill, a problem that could grow worse as the state considers reducing beds at psychiatric hospitals.

The San Antonio Express-News reported Saturday that some counties in Texas don't follow a state law passed last year requiring a swift evaluation of every inmate thought to be mentally ill.

The newspaper reports that courts are supposed to order the exams before proceeding with trials in a process designed to usher inmates who need help into treatment. Instead, many inmates languish in their cells for months or years, waiting for hospital beds to become available.

James Pavle of the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center says Texas is one of the worst states when it comes to dealing with mentally ill offenders.

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