A major Florida newspaper reported that more than one out of every nine adult Florida inmates is severely mentally ill. That doesn’t mean sociopaths. That means people in need of medication and treatment. That number translates to about 7,000 inmates. It would take seven or eight air-conditioned prisons of 1,000 cells each to hold and treat that many severely mentally ill inmates. Those 7,000 prison cells don’t exist in Florida.
And it is not likely that those mental health cells will exist in Florida anytime soon. We Florida taxpayers want no part of that solution which we sneeringly call coddling criminals just because they are severely mentally ill. Our tax dollars are paying for punishment, not for treatment. Many of those severely mentally ill inmates will swelter in regular solitary confinement cells for years at a time. That’s standard drill for Florida’s mentally ill inmates.
Even worse is the fate of the mentally ill who are sentenced to death in Florida. Before coming to death row as a volunteer chaplain, I assumed that mentally ill people under a sentence of death in Florida had to be a rare anomaly. I was shocked to find out that the opposite is true. Mental illness is practically a subtext to the Florida death penalty. During one stretch of executions under a prior Governor, 7 out of 12 death warrants signed were for inmates with mental illness.
Source: Vatican News