Lawmakers Finding Money For Mentally Ill Inmates

TAMPA -

Next week, the Department of Children and Families will ask state lawmakers - who oversee emergency spending - to approve a transfer of $16.5 million to pay for the treatment and transfer of mentally incompetent criminal defendants currently languishing in county jails.

State Sen. Nan Rich of Sunrise serves on the Joint Legislative Budget Commission.

RICH: My understanding is it's coming from money that has beeen appropriated for the Department of Children and Families to purchase residential treatment services for emotionally-disturbed children. It's not unusual to move money from one category to another.

Rich says the money will pay for secure treatment beds as well as community treatment facilities - but she's worried the state will have trouble finding service providers who can handle an immediate influx of 373 patients.

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