Every year, thousands of mentally ill men and women languish in Texas’ county jails. Incapable of standing trial, they wait in line behind hundreds of other people — sometimes over a year — for a bed in a state hospital to get the help they need. As Texas’ population booms, its leaders have recognized this problem is also growing, but their efforts to shrink the backlog have failed. During our research and reporting, the number of people stuck on the state’s waitlist — with their cases stalled and constitutional rights possibly violated — reached historic levels. KXAN’s ongoing, multi-platform investigation highlights the stories of the families caught up in this broken system and the state’s struggle to find solutions.
KXAN produced a three-part, digital-first docuseries on families impacted by this problem, along with two videos focusing on solutions to mental health treatment in jails, an immersive data story and a “Get Help” page.
The third season of KXAN’s weekly investigative podcast, called “Catalyst,” takes a closer look at one specific case – a veteran who bounced between jail and state hospitals for nearly four years – and extra analysis of the issue.
This feature revisited that veteran stuck in the mental competency loop. He joined advocates and state lawmakers to work for change across Texas, as we provided viewers with context through interactive data elements.
An immersive article, video docuseries and rolling data components focus on the consequences of not tracking details like deaths on the waitlist. We also provide breakout stories on solutions and an inside look at the project.