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Help for repeat offenders suffering from drug addition and mental health disorders

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HENDERSON COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

An East Texas county is seeing more and more people booked into their jail who are repeat offenders struggling with a combination of drug addiction and mental health disorders.

To combat the problem, Henderson County is working to develop a new program that could provide these people with the medication and counseling they need, but some families say what their loved ones really need is long-term inpatient care that they can't seem to find.

Rosie Denson has been struggling with her daughter's deteriorating mental health since 1993. That's when her daughter was seriously injured in a car crash.

"That took my daughter away from me, but I didn't desert her. I hung right in there," Rosie says.

In recent years, Rosie's daughter has become increasingly violent.

"She throws me on the floor, she tried to stab me, she jumps on me frequently. You don't have to fight her when her mind is really gone," says Rosie.

That fight moves to the streets where her daughter is frequently getting arrested.
According to Henderson County judicial records, Rosie's daughter spent more than half of last year in the county jail.

"People are calling because she's going in their houses and their cars and stealing stuff out of their cars... going in their mailbox putting their mail strewn everywhere... hanging clothes in the street... cussing people out... jumping on the them," says Rosie.

Rosie's daughter has been booked into state mental hospitals, but her stays are short and she's back on the streets.

"I love her to death, but I got to do what a mother is supposed to do-- get some help for her so I can see some peace myself," says Rosie.

"We're used to dealing with people who commit criminal offenses and people who commit misdemeanor offenses, and the county has the resources to deal with those. The mental health is not that easy," says Henderson County Attorney Clint Davis.

Davis says many county inmates are evaluated for mental health issues, but they often don't meet the criteria set by the state to receive long term in patient mental care.  A new program with the local Andrews Center could provide people with mental disorders and drug additions the help they need.

"It would be where they actually go in and receive services during the day. They are monitored by mental health professionals at the Andrews Center and so on," he says.

But people like Rosie fear their loved ones need something more.

"I need help. That's what I'm asking for. Help me to help her," she says.

Henderson County says for the most part, the people who would benefit from this new program are non-violent offenders. The county knows continuously cycling these people in and out of jail does not fulfill their need for long-term mental health care.

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