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Justice Institute

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Holland & Knight LLP

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


Justice Institute Fact Sheet, January 2012

Impact of Mental Illness and Substance Abuse on the Justice System

$600 million annually to house people with mental illnesses in Florida’s prisons and forensic treatment facilities. 

Another $500 million to house people with mental illnesses in county jails.

$12.6 million in accumulated arrests, jail days, community psychiatric hospital days and state hospital days for just 97 high utilizers in Miami-Dade County over a five-year period. 

66,000 Florida prison inmates and 90,000 probationers have a drug problem but less than 1% of the Department of Corrections budget is spent on drug treatment.  According to the Department, 82% leave prison without receiving substance abuse treatment.

63% of the more than 75,000 youth in Florida’s juvenile justice system have been diagnosed with mental illness or have demonstrated behaviors that suggest mental illness.  Another 65% are diagnosed with or have behaviors suggesting a substance use disorder.

Treatment Improves Public Safety, Supports Recovery, Saves Tax Dollars

Examples of successful community diversion programs can be found throughout Florida:

Pinellas County’s jail diversion program had an 89% reduction in re-arrest rates for nearly 3,588 offenders enrolled in the mental health jail diversion program.  Prior to entering the program, clients chalked up 26,845 arrests.  After completion, their arrests dropped to 2,212. 

Osceola County’s jail diversion program has reduced recidivism from 80% to 12% through treatment, case management and social rehabilitation services.

In 2012, the Miami-Dade Police Department received 5,225 CIT calls, diverted 1,803 individuals and made only 6 arrests. Miami-Dade County’s Felony Jail Diversion program has resulted in 13,900 fewer jail days since September 2008..

Orange County’s mental health diversion program has saved law enforcement $2.9 million over ten years, the equivalent of 62 law enforcement positions and a reduction of approximately 150,000 jail bed days for Orange County Corrections.