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May 2008 Consensus Project Newsletter
Posted by: BJ Berquist ()
Date: May 05, 2008 06:08PM

To view the May 2008 Consensus Project Newsletter, visit

This month's headlines:

- CSG Justice Center Receives Award to Improve Data Collection in Mental Health Courts

- Florida House Passes Mental Health System Reform Bill
The Florida House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill on April 19, 2008, designed to provide community-based services to people with mental illnesses and reduce the state’s dependence on costly forensic treatment beds.

House Bill 7085 is based on a comprehensive report (pdf) developed by Florida State Court Chief Justice Fred Lewis’s task force, which is led by Judge Steven Leifman, the special advisor on criminal justice and mental health to the Florida Supreme Court. Last year, Florida was one of the seven states selected to participate in the Chief Justices’ Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative and receive support and technical assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center and National GAINS Center.

Proponents of the new bill believe that it will save millions of taxpayer dollars by providing community-based services to people with mental illnesses so that they are less likely to enter the criminal justice system due to untreated mental illnesses. The bill is now being considered by the Senate.

- President Bush Signs Unprecedented Prisoner Reentry Legislation
On April 9, 2008, President Bush signed the Second Chance Act of 2007. This first-of-its-kind legislation will authorize various grants to government agencies and nonprofit groups to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services that can help reduce re-offending and violations of probation and parole.

"I will be working with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to make certain that the Second Chance Act has the funding to enable community and faith-based organizations to deliver needed services," said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS). "Properly supported, this law will also help connect people released from prison and jail to mentoring, vital mental health and substance abuse treatment, expand job training and placement services, and facilitate transitional housing and case management services."

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Re: May 2008 Consensus Project Newsletter
Posted by: murrayellison ()
Date: May 06, 2008 08:24AM

Thanks BJ for posting this message. The Florida program to di-institutionalize mental health patients and send them back to the communities sounds much like what Virginia did about 30 years ago. This was said to be followed by adding substantial community services for the individuals returning, Actual programs for these people were substantially less than the need. The result was that many mentally ill people fell through the cracks and never received anywhere near the level of serrvices they needed. Virginia is finally trying to address the need for comprehnsive community mental health services. However, it took the tragic and senseless shooting by a mentally ill student at Virginia Tech last year for the matter to receive attention, and some additional resources. I don't know what the plan is for community services in Florida?

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