Tarrant County commissioners expanded the list of charges eligible for the people to go to the Mental Health Jail Diversion Center rather than the Tarrant County Jail.

The county district attorney, the county sheriff and the Mental Health Jail Diversion Advisory Committee suggested the additions to increase the usage of the diversion center, according to a press release.

The new charges include:
  • Misdemeanor theft
  • Possession of marijuana
  • Disorderly conduct
  • False report
  • Terroristic threat if there is no violence
Previously, only a criminal trespass charge allowed for entry into the diversion center. It is now one of the six charges that would allow a person go to the diversion center, located at 200 W. Belknap St., Fort Worth.

“The Tarrant County Jail Diversion Center has already shown great success in diverting individuals away from the criminal justice system and towards more appropriate care and services,” Fort Worth police Chief Neil Noakes said. “We can expect even greater outcomes and a reduction in the number of individuals who end up in jail due to untreated mental health or addiction issues.”

The center, which opened in January 2022, can hold up to 40 people. Offers of diversion are made at the discretion of the law enforcement officer, and the detained party must volunteer to be taken there, according to the press release.

“It was always anticipated that we would expand beyond just criminal trespass to a wide array of other nonviolent offenses that would be considered for entry into the mental health jail diversion center. We reach that point now,” said Roy Charles Brooks, Precinct 1 commissioner and chair of the Mental Health Jail Diversion Advisory Committee, during a March 28 Commissioners Court meeting.

A new process for redirecting those eligible for the diversion center will also be implemented at the Tarrant County Jail alongside the expanded charges. Now individuals can be diverted to the diversion center directly from the county jail after being reviewed by My Health My Resource of Tarrant County, the originating law enforcement agency and the Tarrant County jail supervisor, according to the press release. If all three parties agree, charges would be dropped against a detained individual.

Individuals with a record of violent charges will not be eligible to be diverted from the county jail, according to Brooks.