A Times/Herald-Tribune Investigation

In danger.

Florida cut $100 million from its mental hospitals. Chaos quickly followed.

Florida’s state-funded mental hospitals are supposed to be safe places to care for people who are a danger to themselves or others. But years of neglect and deep budget cuts transformed them into treacherous warehouses where violent patients roam the halls with no supervision and workers are left on their own to oversee dozens of people. Now, no one is safe inside.

Part 1: Deep cuts, rising violence

How years of neglect and $100 million in cuts created chaos in Florida’s mental hospitals.

Part 2: A secret system

A wall of secrecy surrounds mental hospitals and protects abusers.

Part 3: In the end, it wasn't his demons that killed him

Mental hospital workers could have saved Anthony Barsotti’s life. Instead they watched him die in slow motion, waiting hours to call 911 as his brain and body shut down.

Part 4: Florida spends millions making sure the mentally ill go to court — and gets nothing for it

Mental hospitals give patients little therapy, and instead run them through drills, day after day, to teach them how a courtroom works.

Part 5: 'I want to get out of here’

Judge, family try to keep a mentally ill retiree from dying behind bars.

Watch: No one is safe inside

Behind the walls of Florida’s mental hospitals, patients and staff are left vulnerable to violence, even death. A Times/Herald-Tribune documentary.

Update: Since October investigation, another 41 assaults

Despite state lawmakers’ calls for emergency safety measures, violence continues in Florida’s mental hospitals at record rates.

Closed-circuit chaos

Secret surveillance videos show just how violent the hospitals became.

Death on the wards

Mental patients die because of attacks and mistakes.

Join the conversation

Share your thoughts about the series.

Florida’s Mental Hospitals

Florida State Hospital

Florida State Hospital

100 N Main St., Chattahoochee

Beds: 959

Florida’s oldest and largest mental hospital houses some of the state’s most dangerous patients on a 620-acre campus. More than 700 beds go to people charged with a crime but who have been deemed incompetent. Another 240 beds are for people not charged but ruled a danger to themselves or others.

Northeast Florida State Hospital

Northeast Florida State Hospital

7487 State Road 121, Macclenny

Beds: 613

The hospital opened in 1959 to relieve overcrowding at Florida State Hospital. It treats mentally ill adults who are suicidal and need long-term care, along with incompetent criminal defendants. Defendants are not segregated from other patients and often are free to move about the campus.

North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center

North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center

1200 NE 55th Blvd., Gainesville

Beds: 193

This maximum security mental hospital opened in 1976 and was originally designed for sex offenders. It now caters to mentally ill men who have been charged with a crime and deemed incompetent.

Treasure Coast Forensic Treatment Center

Treasure Coast Forensic Treatment Center

96 SW Allapatah Road, Indiantown

Managed by Correct Care Recovery Solutions LLC

Beds: 208

Opened in April 2007, it is one of the state’s most modern maximum security hospitals. It caters exclusively to mentally ill men charged with a crime. In 2014, it was bought by Correct Care Recovery Solutions, a private prison management company based in Nashville, Tenn. Patients are housed in single rooms and have less freedom of movement than in older, state-run facilities.

South Florida State Hospital

South Florida State Hospital

800 E Cypress Drive, Pembroke Pines

Managed by Correct Care Recovery Solutions LLC

Beds: 341

The hospital opened in 1957 on the grounds of a World War II military base. It was investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice in the 1970s for allegations of patient abuse and sexual misconduct. In 1998, the Florida Legislature turned management over to a private company.

South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center

South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center

18680 SW 376th St., Florida City

Managed by Correct Care Recovery Solutions LLC

Beds: 238

Opened in 1986, the hospital serves mentally ill men and women charged with crimes. Originally a state-run facility, it is now operated privately, under contract with the state.


About the story

A team of reporters and data specialists from the Tampa Bay Times and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune spent more than a year investigating Florida’s largest state mental hospitals. Reporters interviewed dozens of current and former employees, then crisscrossed the state to talk to mental patients and their families.

They also collected thousands of pages of incident reports, health and safety inspections and investigative files from state agencies and police departments across Florida. Using those records, the reporters created the first comprehensive database of injuries and violent episodes at Florida’s mental hospitals.

About the writers