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Bexar County moves to expand treatment facility and forensic science space

Bexar County Courthouse
Brian Kirkpatrick
Bexar County Courthouse

Bexar County commissioners on Tuesday voted to move forward on plans to expand three major county facilities.

Commissioners okayed the next step to expand a county treatment facility using $25 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds.

The Applewhite Road facility treats inmates from the jail for mental health and substance abuse issues.

"The planned new building is to build another new facility with new intake functions, new housing functions to increase that capacity by 130 beds," said Dan Curry, the county facilities manager.

Those treatment beds would free up in space in the crowded county jail where staff overtime costs remain a problem that costs taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year.

Commissioners also voted to proceed with plans for a multimillion dollar conversion of a building in the 7300 block of Barlite Boulevard into a new 40,000 square foot county crime lab.

The county crime lab's move out of the Forensic Science Center, now shared with the Medical Examiner, would give the ME 20,000 square feet of additional space in the Medical Center area.

In other action, commissioners voted to apply for a state grant to create an immigration division within the county public defender's office.

Assistant County Public Defender Sarah May said county taxpayers spent a lot of money to jail migrants on orders from ICE in 2022.

"It cost Bexar County $2.6 million to house people with ICE detainers," she told commissioners.

She said the county's own immigration division could provide detained migrants with better legal support to move their cases faster through the courts, reducing costs associated with their detention.

May told commissioners the average local detention stay for a migrant with legal trouble is 30 days right now.

Once the grant money runs out, the funding burden for the division would fall on the county, which sparked some debate among commissioners.

In other action, commissioners:

  • More funding: Amended a grant agreement that adds $7 million in federal COVID relief dollars to the $25 million already allotted to the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council. This round of funding will be used to add mental treatment beds at local facilities. The council helps coordinate treatment services among hospitals in a 22-county region.
  • Proclamations: Passed separate proclamations to recognize Texas Women Veterans Day, to honor Dr. Saul Hinojosa for his contributions as superintendent of the Somerset School District, to recognize June as National Scleroderma Awareness Month, and to recognize June 11 as Race Amity Day.
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