News Release Header
For Immediate Release:
May 04, 2015
Media Contact:
Maria Juncadella-Ferreiro
MARY4@miamidade.gov
305-375-5128

Commissioner Heyman and Judge Steven Leifman join a host of officials to address crisis of mental illness in jails


(MIAMI, FL) – The problem of mental illness in jails has become a national crisis. Counties such as Miami-Dade County are being forced to shoulder the increasingly staggering burden of housing mentally ill inmates – who cost two to three times more to house than regular inmates due to their higher need for intervention.

To shed light on the crisis and discuss how agencies across the criminal justice system can work together to solve it, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman and Judge Steven Leifman of the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida will be joined by a host of officials at a press conference on Wednesday, May 6 at 10:30 a.m. at the Miami-Dade Children’s Courthouse, 155 NW 3rd Street, Room 5356, Miami, FL 33128. A moderated discussion will follow the press conference at 11 a.m.

Joining Commissioner Heyman and Judge Leifman as speakers are Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Marydell Guevara and a number of other national and state officials and representatives of the state attorney’s office, law enforcement, the courts, the mental health profession, the business and homeless communities, and Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) police, as well as members of the National Association of Counties (NACo).

“Every year, about 2 million people with serious mental illnesses are being booked into jails, which are not equipped to handle their needs or reduce their recidivism rates,” Commissioner Heyman and Judge Leifman said in a statement. “Rather than dumping people with mental illness into jails over and over again, we need to focus on real solutions like diversion and programs that actually promote recovery and improve public safety.”

The press conference and discussion is one of a series of similar events taking place across the country during the first week of May to launch “Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illness in Jails” – which is being spearheaded by NACo in partnership with the American Psychiatric Foundation.

Through NACo and its partners, Stepping Up is calling on counties across the nation to pass resolutions to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails, while also providing assistance to counties that want to see better results. For more information, visit www.naco.org/programs/csd/Pages/Mental-Illnesses-in-Jails.aspx.

Who:
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman
Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida Associate Administrative Judge Steven Leifman
Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Director Marydell Guevara
National Association of Counties (NACo)
Numerous other elected officials and representatives of law enforcement, the courts, the mental health profession, the state attorney’s office, the public defender’s office, and homeless and business community representatives
What:
Press conference and moderated discussion to address crisis of mental illness in jails to launch “Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illness in Jails”
When:
May 06, 2015, 10:30 a.m.
Where:
Miami-Dade Children’s Courthouse, 155 NW 3rd Street, Room 5356, Miami, FL 33128