Hundreds of mentally ill Florida inmates can’t get the care they need — and are constitutionally entitled to — in county jails, reports the Miami Herald. A Miami-Dade corrections spokeswoman would not comment on conditions on the county jail’s ninth floor because of pending litigation. Courts and the state Department of Children & Families have reached a legal impasse. Judges routinely order state authorities to treat mentally ill inmates within 15 days; officials argue that state legislators didn’t allocate enough money to treat convicted or suspected criminals who are mentally ill.
In August, the state decided to ignore orders from judges that certain inmates be immediately transferred to a hospital. Officials say it wouldn’t be fair to jump over others on the waiting list that often has more than 300 names statewide. Last Friday, Lucy Hadi, the state agency’s embattled chief, abruptly resigned, a day after a judge fined her agency $80,000 for repeatedly ignoring orders to take mentally ill jail inmates into psychiatric hospitals for treatment. Attorneys have filed motion after motion — more than 30 alone by the Miami-Dade public defender’s office — in an attempt to force the state to comply with judicial orders. Two inmates have sued in federal court. Nearly forgotten amid the wrangling are the families of sick inmates, forced to sit on the sidelines, watching helplessly as their loved ones deteriorate.