Mentally Ill Inmates Serving Time in Leon County Jail

We reported that earlier this week, but what you may not realize is on any given day. There are 80 to 100 mentally ill inmates behind bars in Leon County.

David Bilsky is accused of setting fire to a Tallahassee church, but he's just been declared incompetent to stand trial and transferred to a mental health facility.

John Kenny, Bilsky's attorney, says, "Mr. Bilsky's mental illness was so significant and people were so concerned the jail could not handle how quickly he was deteriorating. It was critical to get him to Florida State Hospital.”

A recent report by the Public Safety Coordinating Council found that an average of 90 to 95 mentally ill inmates requiring psychotrophic medication are incarcerated at the Leon County Jail in any given month.

The count today is 88, requiring 225 different prescriptions.

Larry Campbell, Leon County Sheriff, says, "It should not be against the law to be crazy. That may not be politically correct sounding, but that's what a lot of people serving time in jail for today. They should be serving time in a mental institution."
Mental health professionals at the Apalachee Center say the jail has been forced to become a treatment provider because treatment beds in town are usually at capacity.

Chris Gosen of Apalachee Center Inc., says, "There have been more patients that have been put in jail with mental illness than would be necessary would appropriate community alternatives be available."

The Leon County Jail houses a full spectrum of mentally ill inmates, some are fine with medication, others are banned from using utensils at meal time for fear they'll hurt someone, and still others are on constant suicide watch.

It can take months to have an inmate declared incompetent, and according to attorneys, even after a judge's order it can take up to 30 days to find an open bed at a treatment facility.


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