The Corpus Callosum

The Myth of Compassionate Conservatism

OK, so it is not totally a myth; there are plenty of compassionate
conservatives out there.  But the phrase can be used to
whitewash policies that are just plain mean.

Florida is illegally imprisoning mentally ill persons, repeatedly,
systematically, and is doing nothing to try to solve the problem.

This is a gross violation of civil rights.  It is an
astonishing affront to our notion of a free society.  It is
comparable to warrantless wiretapping, or suspension of habeas corpus.

Clash Over Mentally Ill in Florida Jails

November 15, 2006

MIAMI, Nov. 14 — For years, circuit judges
here have ordered state officials to obey Florida law and promptly
transfer severely mentally ill inmates from jails to state hospitals.
But with few hospital beds available, Gov. Jeb Bush’s
administration began flouting those court orders in August.

Now, in a growing standoff between the government of Florida and its
judges, the state is being threatened with steep daily fines if it does
not comply. And 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…

…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…

This is a complex issue, because it is related to the deinstitutionalization
, the lack of universal health coverage, and a host
of issues pertaining to social justice and the lack thereof.
 There is a lot to be said about all of these things.

But the central point that I would like to emphasize is that the
government of the State of Florida is illegally imprisoning American

The second point that I would like to remind people of, is that this
could happen to anyone.  In other words,
do not think that this could never happen to you.


  1. #1 Greg P
    November 16, 2006

    One thing I disagree about: this is not a complex issue.

    It is simple common sense, a basic sense of actions producing certain results. The kind of sense that educated, semi-educated, and uneducated people can understand anywhere in the world.

    We say that it is “wrong” to institutionalize the mentally ill forever. So we send them out to the communities.

    We underfund clinics and home-like living places for these displaced persons.

    We cut back on reimbursements for delivering medical care for these people.

    We hire a woefully inadequate number of social workers to handle the needs of these people. We fail to respond to the social workers’ complaints about facilities, services, and help in the communities.

    In short, we create a subculture, if that is anywhere close to an appropriate term, of mentally ill homeless people, who, SURPRISE! SURPRISE! fail to keep appointments, take poor care of themselves, drift around the community, and break one or many laws.

    I guess if we could make sense (sic) of this, we might say that we “progress” to the biblical notions of mental illness as a curse from God, and probably deservedly so. Perhaps they will be stoning (using Tasers?) on the mentally ill in Florida soon.

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