(WTXL) — Florida lawmakers are considering giving higher-pay and early retirement to state employees who work with people who have a criminal past and a mental illness.
Employees in Florida say working with criminally committed mental patients can be traumatic, physically and mentally exhausting, and often dangerous.
We spoke to a few people who are behavioral specialists in Marianna and Chattahoochee hospitals. They all said they've been attacked by patients several times and say they put themselves at risk going to work every day.
That's why lawmakers want early retirement and better pay for those who spend 65 percent of their time in direct contact with criminal patients suffering a mental illness.
Under House Bill 803, employees at four Florida mental facilities will join law enforcement, firefighters, and correctional facility workers in the state's Special Risk Class Retirement System.
The bill will benefit 1,800 state workers who are on the front line, caring for these patients daily. The bill was brought to the House committee on Monday.
It will revisit the committee for a final vote after the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees performs a study at the four facilities and brings forward new information.
Two of those facilities are in Marianna and Chattahoochee, the other two in Gainesville and Macclenny.