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Bill Reforming Mental Health In Florida's Criminal Justice System Gaining Traction

Florida Channel

A plan to revamp mental health care in Florida’s criminal justice system passed its first House panel Wednesday.

While some lawmakers have expressed concern about the fiscal impact such a bill could have on Florida as a whole, there’s a general consensus the measure is needed. Mark Mahon, chief judge of the 4th judicial circuit, is among the supporters.

“In the long run, we think this is going to be fiscally responsible for the state, whether it’s county or state or whatever resources, but it’s also the humane and right thing to do to get these people who have serious mental health issues out of the worst place for treatment, which is a jail where they are not getting adequate, their needs met in terms of medicine, treatment, supervision, that type of thing, and get them into the proper facilities,” he said.

The measure creates a pilot in some Florida counties that could cost up to $4.5 million. It also includes statewide programs to help veterans and juvenile offenders who have mental illnesses.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.