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    Arrest sends man 'home' to jail

    By Times staff report
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published January 20, 2002

    INVERNESS -- For some, jail is home -- the only place they can get a bed, food and mental health treatment.

    Robert Fremer walked into an Inverness Circle K on Tuesday, picked up a six-pack of Busch beer and informed the clerk he wouldn't be paying. Call the police, he added.

    He waited calmly in the parking lot, the stolen six-pack at his side. When Inverness police Officer Matthew Ambrose arrived, Fremer told him to take him "home."

    "I took the beer because I want to go to jail," Fremer said, according to the arrest report. "Take me to jail. I can't succeed in this world. They won't give me a chance."

    Experts say Fremer, who has an extensive arrest record, is a living example of the failures of Florida's public mental health system.

    Fremer's conundrum -- go to jail or go without mental health treatment -- is all too common because the state's public mental health system is underfunded, said Sam Sears, a clinical health psychologist with the University of Florida. A patient must either be committed to a state psychiatric hospital or pay for treatment privately.

    Fremer apparently has no intention of leaving the incarcerated life.

    On the way to the jail, Fremer asked the officer if he had committed a misdemeanor or a felony. When told it was a misdemeanor, Fremer replied: "Next time I'll have to commit a felony so I can go to prison as soon as I get out of jail."

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