Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hadi Headed for Hoosegow?

Is the head of Florida's deservedly-maligned Department of Children and Families, Lucy Hadi, headed for the hoosegow? So it would appear, according to the New York Times.

Abby Goodnough reports that "at least one judge has raised the possibility that the secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families could go to jail for contempt of court" for consistently ignoring court orders to "promptly transfer severely mentally ill inmates from jails to state hospitals."

State law requires that inmates found incompetent to stand trial be moved from county jails to psychiatric hospitals within 15 days of the state’s receiving the commitment orders. Florida has broken that law for years, provoking some public defenders to seek court orders forcing swift compliance.

With the state now rebuffing even those orders, a rising number of mentally ill inmates, now more than 300, have been left without treatment in crowded jails because the state’s 1,416 psychiatric beds are full.

Local police have neither the training nor the tools to properly care for mentally unbalanced inmates. Two died in police custody here in Escambia County over the last year and a psychotic incarcerated in Pinellas County jail "gouged his eyes out."

The root source of the problem, as always, is that state government has been deliberately short-changing social services. The culprit behind that strategy is out-going governor Jeb Bush.
This year, DCF's budget was cut by $53 million "which public defenders say makes no sense given the inmate crisis and the state’s $8 billion budget surplus."

What's a judge to do when the highest officials of state government choose to ignore state law?
Judges in Broward, Hillsborough and Miami-Dade Counties are... weighing motions to force the department to comply with the law or to hold it in contempt for letting the mentally ill pile up in unsuitable jails. The department appealed after three state judges in Miami ordered it to take custody of several inmates last month, but a panel of the Third District Court of Appeal indicated last week that it might rule against the department and its secretary, Lucy D. Hadi.

“It strikes me that ultimately you’ve got contempt issues,” Judge Frank A. Shepherd said during oral arguments, “and Ms. Hadi may be going to jail.”
If Hadi goes to jail for contempt of court, do you suppose her co-conspirator, Jeb Bush, will bail her out?

2 comments:

Bryan said...

John McKay over at archy picked up on this story and wonders who gets the fines that are being leveled against DCF over this problem.

The Department has been a disaster the whole Jeb has been in office. One criminal after another and nothing gets fixed.

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