We've All Seen The 'Florida Man' Memes — But Why Do So Many Crazy Stories Happen In The Sunshine State?

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Florida Man headlines over the map of Florida

As disturbing details of a Florida man’s crimes against children and animals receive national attention, Florida's reputation as the home of bizarre crime cases is compounded.

If you've been on the internet since 2013, you'll know that Florida's supposed notoriety for strange events is renowned — search "Florida man meme" if you're unconvinced.

But while the stories seem unlike anything happening in other states, it's likely that these kinds of events are happening all around us in every state — we just don't have access to the information. 

Why do so many crazy stories happen in Florida? 

Many crimes that occur in Florida end up online because the state has one of the most extensive open government laws that allows information about all of the crimes that happen there to be so readily available. 

From Florida men representing themselves in court by screaming at jurors to chopping their wife's lover's private parts off with a scissors, there's plenty to fuel the meme. 

But there are actually some legitimate reasons why Florida crime stories seem to be more extreme than other states. 

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Florida easy access to public records.

Florida's sunshine laws and freedom of information laws mean Floridians — and anyone else looking to make a meme — can easily access government documents and court proceedings.

Though there are some exemptions, public records are assesible in real time in Florida meaning wild stories break with easy and without restrictions.

All 50 states and the federal government now have some form of Sunshine Laws but many of these aren't as open as Florida's.

These are laws requiring openness in government or business. They allow citizens access to meetings, records, votes, deliberations, and other official matters.

This was a matter of giving the citizens back the power to check those who they elected to make decisions on their behalf.

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Florida is lacking in mental health services.

Florida's lack of mental health supports may explain why Floridians seem to committ absurd crimes.

Florida ranks 33rd overall with a high prevalence of mental illness and low rates of access to care, a report released by Mental Health America details.

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Despite ranking near the middle overall, when just looking at access to care rankings, Florida came in nearly at the bottom at 45th. The lack of access to care may be affected by the mental health professional shortage that Florida is experiencing.

Florida residents also deal with some of the worst economic inequality in the US so, for low-income communities, accessing expense mental health care is extremely challenging. 

Florida has a large population. 

The state is currently the third-largest population in the US and is home to 21.5 million people

More people means more people to commit crimes which may be another explaination for some of the wild Florida tales. 

However, the state is experiencing a decrease in crime and reported a 15.7% fall in total crime. That means there are fewer crazy stories about the Florida man appearing every day. 

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Ciara Litchfield is a writer who works on entertainment and human interest stories with a special emphasis on feel good news.