mentally ill inmates

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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.

Florida Department of Children and Families

The 2010 death of a 23-year-old man at the North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center in Gainesville can be blamed on worker stress and staff shortages, the facility’s former administrator told the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Florida Department of Children and Families

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-Tribune reports.

Florida Department of Corrections

The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the death in a scalding shower of a Florida prisoner and may conduct a broader civil rights probe into allegations of abuse of mentally ill inmates.

Existence of the criminal investigation into the 2012 death of Darren Rainey, 50, was confirmed in a recent Justice Department letter to the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, which last year requested the probe.

Florida prison officials said Friday that they're hiring an ombudsman to oversee the treatment of mentally ill inmates in the wake of widespread abuse allegations and cover-ups.

Between 15 and 20 percent of Florida's 100,000 prisoners have been diagnosed with a mental health condition that requires treatment. The ombudsman will work with about 1,000 inmates with severe mental illness who are admitted to inpatient units. Secretary Mike Crews said the agency also is beefing up crisis intervention training to help guards working with mentally ill prisoners.