Jailing the mentally ill: Attorney General Moody looks for solutions

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody tells a story about the intersection of mental illness and law enforcement. It involves someone experiencing a mental breakdown in the middle of a busy street, “clearly causing chaos,” she says.

“Traffic was tied up. The officer can’t leave them there. If they have no other choice but to arrest them and put them in a jail, and there is no other option, or they don’t have the training in what to do, [jail] is ultimately what is going to happen,” Moody says.

It’s commonplace that mentally ill people get thrown in jail instead of getting the treatment they need – a problem that needs solutions, according to Moody, who’s launched discussions across Florida on the issue that many people may not know about:

Florida’s prisons house 18,000 people with mental problems requiring treatment, and in February reached a legal settlement requiring them to boost mental health services.

Florida Phoenix