Judge Leifman: Where Have Patients Gone? Sadly, Jail and Prison!


“When I became a judge nearly two decades ago, I had no idea I would become the gatekeeper to the largest psychiatric facility in the State of Florida. The Miami-Dade County jail  contains nearly half as many beds for inmates with mental illnesses as all state civil and forensic mental health hospitals combined. Of the roughly 100,000 bookings into the jail every year, nearly 20,000 involve people with serious mental illnesses requiring intensive psychiatric treatment while incarcerated. On any given day, the jail houses approximately 1,200 individuals receiving psychotherapeutic medications, and costs taxpayers roughly $65 million annually..”  Judge Steven Leifman

Judge Steven Leifman from Miami is the reason I was able to write my book, CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, and his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee  last week exposed how both tax dollars and human potential are wasted when individuals with serious mental illnesses are incarcerated rather than treated.

An analysis examining arrest, incarceration, acute care, and inpatient service utilization rates (found) 97 individuals in Miami-Dade County identified to be frequent recidivists to the criminal justice an acute care systems. Nearly every individual was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the vast majority of individuals were homeless at the time of arrest. Over a five year period, these individuals accounted for nearly 2,200 arrests, 27,000 days in jail, and
13,000 days in crisis units, state hospitals, and emergency rooms. The cost to the community was conservatively estimated at $13 million with no demonstrable return on investment in terms of reducing recidivism or promoting recovery.

You can watch is five minute testimony above or read it by clicking here. It should outrage you!


About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.