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About Us

Florida Partners in Crisis is the only Florida organization that unites representatives of the public and private sectors to actively promote the cost-effective use of tax dollars for treatment of persons with mental illnesses and substance use disorders to help create safer communities. 

Our Board of Directors and membership include judges, law enforcement and correctional officials, prosecutors, public defenders, mental health and substance abuse providers, hospital administrators, people recovering from mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders and their families and loved ones.

Florida Partners in Crisis supports:

  • A fully funded community-based system of care that offers treatment and support services designed to help people with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders become resilient and recover.
  • Expanded prevention and early treatment to reduce the involvement of people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders in the criminal justice system, improve their quality of care while in custody, and assure planned and coordinated re-entry from the criminal justice system to the community.
  • The use of best practices in service delivery, coupled with active local and state collaboration, to achieve these goals

History of Florida Partners in Crisis

Florida Partners in Crisis (FLPIC) - now a model of grassroots advocacy - began as a local coalition of advocates in Orange County in 1998. Judge Belvin Perry, of the 9th Judicial Circuit in Orlando, brought together a diverse group of stakeholders to advocate for the resources needed to address the growing mental health and substance abuse crisis in Central Florida.

The new coalition had considerable success in the 1999 legislative session, leading its founders to form a statewide organization in October of that year. Representatives of several major state organizations and agencies signed on to a proclamation that essentially laid the groundwork for Partners in Crisis' current goals and mission.

In June 2000, Seminole County Sheriff Donald F. Eslinger succeeded Judge Perry as State Director of Florida Partners in Crisis. During his three years as director, the organization was successful in further broadening its membership to include nontraditional stakeholders from the criminal justice system. The addition of criminal justice system officials heightened public awareness and understanding of the impact of mental illnesses and substance abuse on Florida communities, and established Partners as a credible and legitimate advocacy coalition with a powerful message.

In July 2003, John H. Rutherford, Sheriff of Duval County, succeeded Sheriff Eslinger as State Director of Florida Partners in Crisis. Under Rutherford's leadership, Partners continued to focus on better funding for community-based services to divert people with mental illness and substance abuse from jail, as well as on improved in-jail treatment services.

Diversion of people with mental illnesses and/or addiction disorders was the hallmark of Seminole Circuit Judge Nancy F. Alley's term as FLPIC's State Director/Board Chair. While she helmed the organization from 2005-2007, Partners played a key role in winning support for a new law which was passed by the 2007 Legislature that creates a mental health and criminal justice state and local matching grants program. The grants will support cross-system collaboration in planning services to strengthen community-based treatment alternatives to jails and prisons.

Broward Circuit Judge Mark Speiser succeeded Judge Alley in June 2007. The founder of one of the nation's first mental health courts, Judge Speiser continued efforts to expand services to help reduce contact of people with mental illnesses and addiction disorders with the criminal justice system.  His extensive experience in felony diversion courts has led to numerous public policy discussions and legislative proposals.  Judge Speiser was re-elected Chairman in June 2013 following Judge Steven Leifman.

Miami-Dade Judge Steven Leifman, who served as special advisor on mental health to the Florida Supreme Court and is a nationally recognized advocate on behalf of people with mental illnesses who have become involved in the criminal justice system. Judge Leifman is one of the authors and leading proponents of forensic hospital diversion programs to provide community-based treatment for certain individuals who may otherwise end up in a forensic hospital facility.  He served as Partner’s Chairman from June 2009 through June 2013.

Over the years, Florida Partners in Crisis has played a key role in achieving significant increases in funding, as well as in preserving access to treatment by helping defeat fail-first and restricted formulary legislative proposals. Through the use of successful billboard campaigns, public service announcements, effective press conferences during legislative sessions, and local advocacy by "partners," FLPIC has continued to focus attention on resolving the ongoing crisis in Florida's mental health and substance abuse service system.

Florida's Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Coalition is a member of the FLPIC "family." This organization advocates for the expansion of the CIT model to law enforcement agencies across Florida, promotes the use of core model elements to foster excellence, and provides technical assistance for CIT development and implementation in other communities.

Through the efforts of hundreds of "partners" statewide, Partners in Crisis has become recognized as one of the leading organizations working for community-based treatment alternatives to jail and prison for people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders.