Project Description

Decriminalizing mental illness 

Too many people with substance use and mental health disorders are being arrested. They end up in a system that cannot properly serve them. Our jails and prisons have become warehouses for people with substance use and mental health disorders because of stigma and the lack of community treatment and adequate training for law enforcement. Further, people getting released from prison and jail struggle to find stable employment and decent, affordable housing, making it difficult to reenter into society and lead productive and wholesome lives.

The average daily population is 3,114 people in the Hillsborough County jail, of which 30-40% have a serious mental illness and are taking psychotropic medications. Further, 60-80% in the local jail have a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder. There are 60-80 people detoxing in jail daily. The average jail-day cost per person is $125.87; the average length of stay is 21 days and may be longer for individuals with a mental health and/or substance use disorder. The 13th Judicial Circuit Mental Health Court successfully diverts from the criminal justice system to community treatment with a 92% reduction in number of (re)arrests, 56% are employed within 180 days of program, and 100% of participants are diverted from a state mental health facility. Yet, the court is at a capacity of a 90-person case load because of limited services within the community.

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The average jail-day cost per person
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The average length of stay in days

Did you know!

The 13th Judicial Circuit Mental Health Court successfully diverts from the criminal justice system to community treatment with a 92% reduction in number of (re)arrests, 56% are employed within 180 days of program, and 100% of participants are diverted from a state mental health facility.

Community awareness, access to recovery-oriented services and treatment, and law enforcement training are key to ensuring people with mental health and substance use disorders get needed services and stay out of the criminal justice system. We are advocating for more officers to receive CIT training and for more citizens in crisis to have access to long-term, recovery-oriented services.

CIT is a 40-hour training that brings together law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, individuals who live with mental illness and/or addiction disorders, their families, and other advocates. It is an innovative first-responder model of police-based crisis intervention training to help persons with mental disorders and/or addictions access medical treatment rather than be placed in the criminal justice system due to illness-related behaviors. It promotes officer safety and safety of the individual in crisis.

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of people in Hillsborough County Jail have a serious mental illness
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have a co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder

Quick fact!

The employment rate of members in the Clubhouse community is 5 times that of a nonmember.

Clubhouses are restorative-based community centers open to individuals with severe mental illness. A Clubhouse is a safe, accepting place designed for people with severe and persistent mental illness. It is an intentionally structured community resource with proven, evidence-based components around increasing job skills, obtaining supported or independent housing and employment, while building meaningful relationships. People who participate in Clubhouses are proven to have greater likelihood to find gainful employment, live independently, and build constructive relationships that ward off feelings of stigma and isolation. Clubhouse members are less likely to end up in the ER, acute care facilities through Baker Acting, or jail. The employment rate of members in the Clubhouse community is 5 times that of a nonmember. Vincent House in Pinellas County for example has a success rate that is over 6 times that of a nonmember, and they have earned over $6 million through real employment in the community.

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Millions Vincent House members have earned through employment