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50 Years of Promises in Mental Health

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Frank Denton, editor of The Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville, has written a powerful column about Melissa Ann Jernigan and all the other Floridians who have serious mental illnesses but end up in jail. Over and over and over.

"Her story tragically and graphically illustrates our virtual abandonment of very many people in our community who are mentally ill," he writes. "Instead of helping them get well, we lock them up."

Denton recounts the history of how we arrived at this place, despite good intentions. He notes that the Jacksonville Community Council is holding weekly meetings and developing recommendations on the issue.

"Ever the optimist, I am hoping for substantial progress, but we have stumbled down this road before," he writes.

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.