Florida prison officials are hiring an ombudsman to oversee the treatment of mentally ill inmates in the wake of abuse allegations and cover-ups.
Department of Corrections Secretary Mike Crews said Friday that up to 20 percent of the 100,000 Florida inmates have been diagnosed with a mental health condition requiring treatment.
The ombudsman will work with about 1,000 inmates with severe mental illness who are admitted to inpatient units.
DOC officials in recent weeks have also fired nearly 50 prison employees, including several over abuse allegations that they punched and beat inmates.
A mental health advocacy group is suing the department, alleging officials and contractors ignored widespread abuse of mentally ill inmates in a Miami prison.
The lawsuit says guards left a prisoner in a locked, scalding hot shower as punishment for defecating in his cell. He later died. The warden at Dade Correctional was fired.