Investigation: Florida’s Mental Health System Focuses On Preparing Non-Violent Offenders For Court, Not Treatment
An investigation explores how the state's mental hospitals focus on preparing some alleged offenders with mental health issues for trial rather than treating the underlying mental illness. Meanwhile, advocates say mental health issues will be at a "critical juncture" in the 2016 Kansas legislative session as momentum builds behind movements away from institutionalization and toward community-based care.
Tampa Bay Tribune & Sarasota Herald Tribune:
'Definition Of Insanity'
Every year, Florida courts send hundreds of people accused of minor crimes to high security mental hospitals. Forced to live among violent offenders, they get medication to stabilize their symptoms, but little therapy or long-term support to help them manage their illnesses. Instead, the hospitals run patients through drills, day after day, to teach them how a courtroom works. “What is a bailiff?” “What is the role of a judge?” The singular goal: to get them deemed legally competent so they can return to face their charges. (Braga, Cormier and Anton, 12/18)
Health News Florida:
Mental Hospital Focus On Court, Not Treatment
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. (12/21)
The Kansas Health Institute News Service:
Mental Health System At Crossroads As Session Approaches
Kansas mental health advocates will enter the 2016 session at a critical juncture, 25 years into the state’s effort to move away from institutionalization to community-based care. Crowded prisons and state hospitals have helped create momentum for statewide reforms to fill the gaps in that system — to provide a “continuum of care” to keep Kansans with persistent mental illness out of crisis. (Marso, 12/21)
The Charleston Gazette-Mail:
DHHR Brings Down Patient Numbers At Psych Hospitals
The number of staff vacancies at the state’s two psychiatric hospitals have dropped since court-ordered raises were introduced for current and prospective employees in January, according to testimony from state officials in Kanawha County Circuit Court Thursday. (Nuzum, 12/20)