Mentally Ill FL Jail Inmates Die Under Private Firm’s Care

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Armor Correctional Health Services of Miami, a private company paid to handle jail health care in Broward County, Fl., has failed to protect some inmates endangered by their mental illnesses, with deadly consequences, a South Florida Sun Sentinel investigation has found. An examination of inmate deaths since 2010 and a review of court, medical, and jail records shows that the firm has left severely mentally ill inmates unmedicated and malnourished, despite having the authority to help them. Lack of medication lead mentally ill people not to eat and to harm themselves.

Seven mentally ill inmates killed themselves or suffered dramatic weight loss while being held alone in cells. Armor staff acknowledged mishandling the care of at least four mentally ill inmates before their deaths. The Sheriff’s Office pays Armor $25 million a year to provide health services in the jails; Armor does not share its death investigation reports with the Sheriff’s Office. Taxpayers have paid more than $1.5 million since 2004 for federal court monitoring of Broward jails. Court-ordered monitoring was supposed to improve medical care for inmates when it began nearly four decades ago, after inmates complained of crowding and mistreatment. Dr. Dana Tatum, Armor’s chief behavioral health officer, said, “Our professionals are regularly tasked with the unappreciated job of caring for those that the community and their families have abandoned. Those professionals do this job every day to a standard beyond what can be found in the public health system.”

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