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Barry Russell

House advances pilot program to treat mental health versus jail

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A House committee voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of a bill to begin the Forensic Hospital Diversion Pilot Program in the Panhandle’s Okaloosa County. Rep. Mel Ponder, who sponsored HB 1051, introduced the measure to the House Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee. The bill intends to alleviate overcrowding in the state’s prison corrections system with a significant percentage of individuals with mental health needs Often, those individuals go ignored while incarcerated. “We believe those inmates would be better served with…

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