Mental Health Division

Mental Health Division

Frank Crowley Courts Building - 133 N. Riverfront Boulevard, LB 19, Dallas, TX 75207
Telephone: (214) 653-3600 • Fax: (214) 653-5774

The mission of the Mental Health Unit is to prosecute defendants diagnosed with mental illness while safeguarding the interests of the citizens of Dallas County. This will be done by seeking out all forms of available treatment, services or diversionary court programs for defendants whose cases are accepted into the Division. There is no predictor for anyone’s future behavior; however, no case will be taken, regardless of a defendant’s mental illness, if we believe the safety of the citizens of Dallas County would be compromised by accepting the case. All decisions made and all actions taken by the Mental Health Division will be to see that justice is done.

Dallas County was one of the first to adopt a mental health criminal justice program. According to a 2010 comprehensive, eighteen month study conducted by a research scientist from Texas A & M in conjunction with the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense, Dallas was found to have the most successful mental health program in Texas (of the counties studied). Defendants from the mental health caseload in Dallas exhibited the lowest risk of recidivism of the counties studied.

The Dallas County Jail has a 36 bed psychiatric Intensive Care Unit and is the largest provider of mental health services in the county and the 4th largest in the state (after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the State Hospital and the Harris County Jail).

The Mental Health Division of the District Attorney’s Office has been greatly expanded in recent years. It now has attorneys specifically trained to deal with cases involving defendants who have mental health issues, as well as, the highly specialized areas of competency and insanity. The Competency and Insanity attorneys in the Mental Health Division of the District Attorney’s Office handle matters including, but not limited to, monitoring all out-patient competency restoration and monitoring out-patient insanity releases from State Hospitals into the community.

The competency position’s “Out-patient Competency Restoration Program” alone, more than pays for itself. In 2009 the pilot program saved the county $300,000 by not housing the mentally-ill defendants in the jail. The program has grown significantly since then, saving more money for Dallas taxpayers. This program allows defendants to be treated in their communities, which is more beneficial than being in a hospital. These defendants are less frequently charged with new crimes than defendants that are sent to the hospital. The attorney monitors the community based programs, whether the defendant is taking medications, attending court ordered doctor’s visits, drug testing, etc.

Therapeutic Justice, problem solving courts, dramatically reduce the high recidivism rate in criminal cases (especially of drug offenders which is the offense of many of the mentally ill – attempting to self-medicate their illnesses). There are 23 specialty courts in Dallas County including 1 family, 6 juvenile and 16 adult specialty courts (14 court programs out of Frank Crowley & 2 city ran programs-South Oak Cliff Veterans Treatment Court and South Dallas Drug Court). Of the 14 from Frank Crowley, 4 of those focus on mentally ill defendants. These courts work—individuals successfully treated do not re-offend, or do so at a much lower rate, thus saving money and public resources. These courts compel individuals to respect the system and participate in the treatment services offered or face swift consequences, which is regarded as a superior form of accountability to traditional sentences.

Resource NameFile Format
Community Resource Guideacrobat
Quick Tips for Familiesacrobat


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