Mental Hospital Focus on Court, Not Treatment

Dec 21, 2015

Florida is spending more than $50 million a year getting defendants charged with nonviolent crimes declared competent for trial and not providing these same people significant mental health treatment, according to an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The current system has defendants spend two hours a day watching courtroom procedure videos reminiscent of game shows, and cuts off care once they are removed from mental hospitals. The result is that about 200 of these individuals a year are returning to state mental hospitals within 12 months, the investigation reports.

Florida’s Legislature in January will be asked to consider a bill to provide the Florida Department of Children and Families $19 million to expand its treatment options, and another proposal that would increase jail diversion programs across the state, the Times and Herald-Tribune reports.