Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw is fond of pointing out that he runs the county’s largest mental health center: the Palm Beach County Jail. Over the course of a year, the jail takes in more than 50,000 inmates and doles out mental health services to more than 600 daily. One of every fourteen inmates receives psychiatric medication, and four new inmates a day are admitted into the jail’s mental health wards.
We like to imagine the mentally ill receiving professional help in tranquil and verdant settings, but far too many people who receive such treatment get it behind bars. This underscores an important point: No one has more contact with the severely mentally ill than law enforcement.
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