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Justice Institute

Our Sincere Thanks to our Justice Institute Roundtable Members

Holland & Knight LLP

Stearns, Weaver, Miller, Weissler, Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A.

Justice Institute's Goal to Improve Understanding of Mental Illness and Available Treatment Options

Each year more than 170,000 people experiencing serious mental illnesses (e.g. schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression) are arrested and booked into Florida jails. The cost is $1 million per day - $365 million per year. The number of Floridians with mental illnesses in prison has increased 36% in the past five years. Without treatment, many individuals cycle through the system for the majority of their adult lives.

Florida has been at the forefront in programs that provide access to court-monitored treatment and services in lieu of continued jail time. The nation’s first drug court was created in Dade County in 1989, followed by the first mental health court in Broward County in 1997.

Unfortunately, continuing education programs have not kept pace with the advancement of these specialized courts. Additionally, we know that issues surrounding mental disorders can impact many other areas of the court system including Family, Dependency, Criminal and even Probate Court.

As part of our mission, Florida Partners in Crisis has created a Justice Institute to provide continuing education courses on mental illnesses and substance use disorders to judges, state attorneys, public defenders, the private bar, law enforcement officials and health care professionals.  (see Continuing Education under the Justice Institute tab for materials)

Partners in Crisis’ members believe that through education and greater understanding of these disorders we can increase public safety, save taxpayer dollars and improve lives by helping individuals maintain their recovery and wellness.  Information about our Justice Institute programs can be found on the Continuing Education tab.  We welcome your comments regarding future topics and information.

Following is an overview of our current Justice Institute programs:


Florida Partners in Crisis is working in partnership with the agencies and organizations named below to create educational materials on mental disorders and intellectual disabilities for use by judges, state attorneys, public defenders, legal services organizations, court personnel and private bar members. It is our intention that this program serve as an ongoing resource for court officials with up-to-date information, expanded course curriculums and online capabilities.

In 2009, Partners in Crisis established a Justice Institute to develop courses and written materials for criminal justice officials. In addition to offering in-person educational programs, the Justice Institute has developed a bench book guide for judges, community resource guide and a video library.

The bench book, A Judge’s Essential Guide to Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders provides the latest clinical information on the characteristics of mental disorders and intellectual disabilities including mental illnesses, substance use disorders, co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders, types of intellectual disabilities and autism.  The book also provides citations for relevant Florida laws, statutes, rules and policies.

The Essential Guide was provided free of charge to more than 150 court professionals including state attorneys, public defenders, problem-solving court judges and members of the Florida Supreme Court Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Courts.  The Essential Guide was also approved for electronic posting on the Florida court’s intranet site making it available to more than 900 circuit and county judges.

The Community Resource guide is recommended for use by court personnel, attorneys and others to guide them to community resources, diversion programs, entitlement benefits and other resources available for defendants with mental disorders or intellectual disabilities.  The Resource Guide can be found on our website.

Continuing education courses are offered at our Annual Conference and Justice Institute (July 1-2, 2014).  We also offer CLE credits through our DVD library.

Continuing education sessions are approved by the Office of the State Courts Administrator, the Florida Bar and Florida Certification Board. Florida Partners in Crisis works collaboratively with the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association, Florida Council for Community Mental Health, Florida Sheriffs Association, Disability Rights Florida, NAMI Florida, Florida Psychiatric Society and other organizations to provide faculty for a variety of statewide and regional conferences.

Contributing Agencies and Organizations

  • Disability Rights Florida
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Florid
  • Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida
  • Office of State Courts Administrator
  • Florida Psychiatric Society
  • Florida Institutional Legal Services

Project Funders

  • The Florida Bar Foundation
  • Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation
  • Disability Rights Florida
  • Holland & Knight LLP
  • Lilly, USA LLC
  • Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.
  • Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A.

The Judicial Education Project is supported in
part by a grant from the Florida Bar Foundation