HOUSTON (AP) — Houston-area law enforcement officials are expanding a program to keep low-level misdemeanor offenders with mental health problems out of jail following the success of new facility that resulted in diverting more than 1,000 people from incarceration and saving taxpayers $9 million.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Wednesday officials will increase the types of low-level misdemeanor offenses that can be referred to a mental health diversion center that opened in September.
Officers had mostly been diverting trespassing cases from the county jail to the center. But most other low-level, nonviolent misdemeanors will now be considered. Offenses like driving while intoxicated, domestic violence and assault will be excluded.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said the program’s expansion is not an effort to be “soft on crime.”