Rights in a Forensic Mental Health Facility

Everyone living in the United States of America has certain legal rights, including individuals detained in a forensic mental health facility. In Florida, individuals in mental health facilities get their rights from various sources including the Florida Statutes, the Florida Department of Children & Families policies, and from court decisions.

When an individual believes that his/her rights have been violated, he/she has a right to report that violation and seek resolution.

Rights of Individuals in Mental Health Facilities

Some specific rights of individuals residing in forensic mental health facilities are:

  • Access to a telephone to call family, friends, etc. during specific hours; - unless such communication seemed harmful;
  • Access to a telephone to report abuse or to call an attorney at anytime;
  • Visitation with family and friends;
  • Access to speak privately during calls and visits;
  • Access to mail communications;
  • Protection of confidential records;
  • Information on how to report a complaint;
  • Access to voting in national, state and municipal elections;
  • Provision of express and informed consent to medications by a competent individual;
  • Access to grounds unless restricted for medical or safety reasons;
  • To be free from abuse and neglect;
  • To be treated respectfully;
  • Provision of reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Identification of a representative to be notified in case of emergency; notified of admission and/or invited to Treatment Team meetings;
  • Placement in the least restrictive (limiting) and most appropriate and available setting;
  • A physical examination within 24 hours;
  • Participation in the development of a treatment plan and a discharge plan;
  • To keep clothing and personal items unless removed for safety or medical reasons;
  • To contact the court to request a review of the reason and legality of his/her detention, a denial of a right or privilege, or a procedure that is not being followed.

How to Report a Rights Violation

How to report a Rights Violation: An individual can report a rights violation by contacting Disability Rights Florida at 1-800-342-0823. An individual can also write to the court by filing a Writ of Habeas corpus or a Petition for Redress of Grievance to:

  • question placement in this facility
  • question a denial of a right or privilege
  • question a procedure not being followed

Staff members at the facility will provide the individual a copy of a Writ and will assist in filing the Writ with the Clerk of the County Court.

An individual also has the right to contact an attorney.