Mental health specialty court upgraded after receiving grant from University Health System

Court sets precedent by granting pre-trial diversion for program participants

A specialty mental health court in Bexar County that handles only felony cases is getting a boost through a grant from University Health System, according to 379th District Court Judge Ron Rangel.

SAN ANTONIO – A specialty mental health court in Bexar County that handles only felony cases is getting a boost through a grant from University Health System, according to 379th District Court Judge Ron Rangel.

The grant funds will be able to supply additional staff and resources, Rangel says.

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Rangel said the court targets defendants who are “just kind of filtering through the Criminal Justice System, not really being treated for underlying issues.”

Marisa Campos was among one of the participants of the program during a recent hearing. She was facing evading arrest charges and has a criminal history. She also has mental health issues that qualified her to participate in the pilot program.

Campos was granted a pre-trial diversion during the hearing, which was a first for the court.

“Before (the participants) actually plea, they enter into a contract with the court, with myself and with the state, where they’re going to go through a very rigorous program,” Rangel said.

He said he is optimistic about the success of the court.

“Once the politics outside of the courthouse start to catch-up, it gives us more fodder, gives us more of an opportunity to push these things that we know are really going to make a difference long term,” Rangel said.


About the Authors:

Paul Venema is a courthouse reporter for KSAT with more than 25 years experience in the role.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.