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State Mental Hospitals: Dangerous, Deadly

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
Florida Department of Children and Families
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

More than $100 million in budget cuts at Florida’s state mental have created an environment where patients are being injured by one another, hurting themselves, and in some cases, attacking the workers assigned to protect and treat then, a joint investigation from the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribunereports.

Budget cuts and a dwindling staff to these facilities coincided with the doubling of violent attacks since 2009. That includes 15 deaths, the papers report, ranging from suicides to brutal attacks from others housed in the facilities.

The investigation shows that about 5,000 people a year are admitted to one of the six state-run mental hospitals designed to take in people who are arrested and found unfit mentally to be tried, or those who are not charged criminally, but may be a danger to themselves or to others.

The series, which continues today and next week, includes interviews with leaders from the Department of Children and Families, who initially disputed the findings but maintain they want to “provide a high quality of care,” Sunday’s story reports. Inconsistent incident reports and a relaxing of reporting requirements could be a reason why, the investigation.

DCF operates three of the hospitals. A private company, Correct Care Recovery Solutions, oversees the others, according to the investigation.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.