Pending Florida Legislation on Mental Health Courts
Excerpt from editorial in Tallahassee Democrat:
Leon County Judge Jonathan Sjostrom told the editorial board of the Democrat on Thursday that the problem of jailing substance-abusers was becoming so undeniably large that law enforcement was first to call for relief. "They told us this is a jail, not a hospital," Mr. Sjostrum said, speaking of the Leon County Jail but knowing the situation is prevalent statewide. "But we'd found that, while there were many resources to fix things, the courtroom was an impediment," he said. Courts use a traditional criminal-justice model of dealing with offenders, he said, rather than recognizing and addressing the complex array of health problems and traumas that lead to the preponderance of drug-related crimes that crowd today's court dockets.
Legislation is being championed this session to continue this impulse to change the system. Mr. Sjostrum, as well as Dade County Judge Steven Leifman, special adviser to the Florida Supreme Court on criminal justice and mental health, are working with Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, sponsor of SB 2018, the Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment and Crime Reduction Act.