State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist
Governor

Robert A. Butterworth
Secretary


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Al Zimmerman
February 12, 2007 850-488-4855

DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES TOUTS COLLABORATION
OF ORANGE COUNTY PARTNERS


~ Department coordinates with local law enforcement and judicial representatives to bring about
forensic treatment solutions ~


         Orlando, Fla. - The Florida Department of Children and Families announced today proposed plans created in coordination with representatives of Orange County government, local law enforcement and the judicial system to initiate much needed mental health treatment for those individuals who cannot aid in their own defense due to mental illness. The innovative collaboration will allow individuals deemed incompetent to proceed to begin receiving treatment, including appropriate medication, as they await transport to one of Florida's state forensic facilities to continue the process of being restored to competency.

         "The creativity and compassion of our partners here in Orange County have laid the groundwork for a solution to this issue statewide," said Secretary Bob Butterworth. "Thanks to this team's willingness to coordinate and compromise, mentally ill individuals in dire need of treatment will have quicker access to the services they deserve."

         Secretary Butterworth was joined by Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty, Judge Lisa Munyon, 9th Judicial Circuit Public Defender Bob Wesley and representatives of the Department of Children District 7 office (serving Brevard, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties) to present the proposed plan and pledge continued coordination among their organizations to better serve this vulnerable population.

         "I am very proud to propose an innovative plan which serves my mentally ill clients and helps to resolve the problems of delayed hospital placement," said Wesley. "The relationships and trust we have with our partners allows us to work well together."

         The Department of Children and Families provides mental health assessment, evaluation and treatment to individuals deemed incompetent to proceed at any stage of a criminal proceeding or not guilty by reason of insanity. All individuals committed for involuntary treatment are charged with felony offense and are required to be admitted to a treatment facility within 15 days.

         With a limited amount of treatment beds available, the Department has been working with local law enforcement and criminal justice partners to address the issue and provide speedy treatment to individuals in need. In addition, the Department requested and received an additional $16.6 million from the Legislative Budget Commission funding more than 350 new treatment beds throughout the state.

         For more information about the programs and services offered by the Florida Department of Children and Families, visit www.state.fl.us/cf_web/.


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