Judge Steven Leifman Named A ‘Public Official of the Year’

By CSG Justice Center staff

Judge LeifmanJudge Steven Leifman of Miami-Dade County, Florida was recently named a “Public Official of the Year” by Governing for his commitment to addressing the high prevalence of mental illness among people in the criminal justice system. In Miami-Dade, where one in five arrests involve people with mental illnesses, Judge Leifman has developed “crisis intervention training” for police officers; created a program to divert people with mental illnesses from the criminal justice system to community treatment; and helped direct appropriations to convert an unused jail into a mental health care facility.

Judge Leifman is a leader in Stepping Up, a national initiative led by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, and the National Association of Counties, to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. The efforts Judge Liefman has pioneered in Miami-Dade have made the county a national model for criminal justice and mental health collaboration. Judge Leifman has worked with the CSG Justice Center on a number of other initiatives, including serving on the leadership committee for the Judges’ and Psychiatrists’ Leadership Initiative and conducting trainings and technical assistance; contributing to Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum; and providing testimony at Congressional briefings to support the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), which funds the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP).