|Mary Durheim, Chair
Robert Schier III, Vice Chair
Beth Stalvey, MPH, PhD, Executive Director
|6201 E. Oltorf, Suite 600
Austin, TX 78741-7509
|Phone: (512) 437-5432
Toll Free: (800) 262-0334
Fax: (512) 437-5434
HOUSE JUVENILE JUSTICE & FAMILY ISSUES COMMITTEE
Written Testimony on House Bill 2107
March 22, 2021
Chair Neave and Committee Members,
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments on House Bill 2107, relating to services for children who are unfit or lack responsibility to proceed in juvenile court proceedings as a result of intellectual disabilities. My name is Sabrina Gonzalez, and I am speaking on behalf of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, registering on the bill.
The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) is established by state and federal law and is governed by 27 board members, appointed by the Governor, 60% of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. TCDD’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.
Texas Family Code, Chapter 55, outlines the series of procedures to follow when a juvenile with an intellectual disability is on trial. If a child is found unfit to proceed because of a mental illness or an intellectual disability, the child will be committed to an inpatient state facility for a period of up to 90 days. The intent of this commitment is to provide the child with mental health services and determine if the child will be able to stand trial following treatment.
Current statute allows for juveniles with mental illnesses to avoid being committed to an inpatient facility if the court determines that the child can receive adequate treatment in an alternative outpatient setting. This means that these youths can receive therapies and services in an outpatient setting and remain in their communities. However, the opportunity to receive treatment in the community at an outpatient setting is currently only available to youths found unfit to proceed due to their mental illnesses.
HB 2107 would extend this same opportunity to youths with intellectual disabilities. Current statute only gives them the option to be committed to an inpatient state hospital facility, even if outpatient care is more appropriate. HB 2107 would give courts the flexibility to decide which setting would be most appropriate for the child and give juveniles with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to remain in their communities.
TCDD’s mission statement acknowledges the importance of community inclusion and recognizes the benefit of receiving treatment in the community. HB 2107 is consistent with the Council’s mission and goals. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for additional information or if I can be of any assistance.
Public Policy Analyst
Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities