Florida Jail Needs Housing For Mentally Ill Inmates

LYNN HAVEN — Bay County officials say they are struggling to oversee their growing population of jail inmates suffering from mental illness.

Warden Rick Anglin says the number of inmates in special housing for mental health has doubled in recent years. The sheriff has asked county commissioner for approval to hire nine more corrections officers at a total of nearly $500,000.

Some of them would provide 24-hour staffing for a specialized unit they’re creating for mentally inmates who must be kept from the general population.

Sheriff Frank McKeithen told the News Herald there have been 57,035 inmate contacts made by the jail’s mental health and medical staff in the past year. The problems come as the state has slashed its mental health budget in recent years.

Matt Stein is a season-credentialed media member covering the Tampa Bay Rays and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also assisting with coverage of USF Athletics. He attended the University of Tampa and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Sport Management.