Mental health, addiction overhaul signed by Gov. Rick Scott
A restructuring meant to force different parts of Florida's mental health system to work together is now law.
Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed SB 12, which requires communities - health professionals, police, courts, jails and local charities - to work together to develop a local plan for mental health and substance abuse treatment.
The goal is to create "no wrong door," the legislation's sponsors said, so that no matter how someone enters the system, they get immediate access to the right kind of care, as well as follow-up services in the future.
But in the long run, supporters' hopes are even higher.
"We'll have an absolute infrastructure that will work for every door," Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, said in an interview with the Times/Herald last month. "And we won't be using our jails and our prisons as mental hospitals."
As many as 40,000 of the state's mentally ill are currently in prison, according to Department of Corrections Secretary Julie Jones.
Many of the most serious - and most expensive - cases are in the state's mental hospitals. Years of budget cuts, abuse and neglect were the subject of an investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and Sarasota Herald-Tribune that brought them into the spotlight.