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Peter McGraw

2013, Equal Justice Works Fellowships, Peter McGraw

Peter McGraw

Name of Host Organization: Texas RioGrande Legal Aid
City, State: Corpus Christi, Texas
Issue area: Criminal Law
Sponsors: Greenberg Traurig, LLP, Texas Access to Justice Foundation

The Project

Peter assisted individuals with psychiatric disabilities to remedy the civil collateral consequences of their involvement in the criminal justice system.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project
The mental health system in Texas is severely under-resourced. People with serious mental illness are almost eight times more likely to end up in state jails than in state psychiatric hospitals. As a result, people with serious mental illness are drastically overrepresented in Texas’s criminal justice system. The consequences of criminal justice involvement go far beyond the criminal case. An arrest can lead to eviction, loss of employment, and termination of public benefits. These civil collateral consequences are especially traumatic for people who receive community-based services and supports. People with mental health conditions deserve civil representation in addition to traditional criminal defense services to remedy the impact of these collateral consequences, avoid homelessness and hospitalization, and prevent recidivism.