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Safety in Florida Mental Health Settings

Living in a community should mean being entitled to trust the safety of one's surroundings. Protecting that feeling of safety is an important part of our work as a Panama City injury law firm. We help people who have had their trust violated, resulting in harm to themselves or even the death of a loved one. Helping after the fact is important, and we are proud of our role in that process, but it is vital that we ask our institutions to learn from safety failures to help improve the sanctity of our community going forward.

Arrest for Contraband on Mental Health Facility Grounds

The importance of feeling secure is especially important when it involves a portion of the community that has been segregated for their own health and the health of others, such as is present in a dedicated mental health facility. According to The News Herald, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office arrested a man on Thursday for having bullets in his car while visiting a mental health facility. The facility involved is Sunland Center, a residential facility near Marianna focused on serving the developmentally disabled.

Sunland security personnel called the Sheriff's office after a man visiting the location became upset and agitated. Authorities believe that the man, identified at Ricardo Leon Sanders, went to Sunland to confront a staff member about issues between the employee and a member of Sanders' family. While officers spoke to Sanders, they noticed a box of bullets sitting in plain view on the front seat of his automobile. Florida law deems the bullets contraband, and bringing them into the facility area is illegal. Sanders, a 22-year-old from Marianna, was taken into custody by Jackson County authorities on charges that he introduced contraband into a mental health location.

Safety in Mental Hospitals and Other Health Facilities in Florida

Florida has several state mental health facilities operated and/or managed by the Department of Children and Families directly via a private provider contract. The facilities work with local communities to provide support and needed services for those who require intensive treatment for serious, persistent mental illness. The state has expressed its commitment to providing high quality treatment and support aimed at recovery and reintroduction into society wherever possible.

A number of federal and state laws help govern mental hospitals and protect residents. One such law is the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, commonly referred to as the "Baker Act," which governs issues related to involuntary examination of a person suspected to be suffering a mental illness. A portion of the Baker Act focuses specifically on prohibiting firearms or other deadly weapons from being brought onto the grounds of a mental health facility. The law even applies to law enforcement personnel in many cases. This law is strict because of the complex nature of mental health treatment and the need to have a safe environment for recovery.

In some ways, the concern about danger in a mental health facility is similar to that present in senior care settings. While no one was harmed in the recent Sunland incident, both mental hospitals and nursing homes involve the care of vulnerable populations, and the law must show a commitment to their safety. All areas of our community should be safe of course, but some require a special level of security and extra legal protection. Our Panama City hospital safety lawyer can help people injured in a care setting or family members who have seen a loved one harmed or killed in such locations. Together with our client, we can investigate claims against the perpetrator of violence, in addition to claims related to inadequate security. We are here to help.


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