County Judge Steven Leifman works to get justice system to do more for the mentally ill rather than incarcerate them
Interviewing Steven Leifman on Halloween seemed fitting: a conversation on the bewitching day with the county judge who concerns himself with all that bedevils the mind. Shaped by his experience during 18 years on the bench, Judge Leifman has evolved into an agent for change amid the never-ending parade of the mentally ill and emotionally disturbed through the local and state criminal justice systems.
He has spearheaded an unprecedented program in Miami-Dade that diverts non-violent offenders with mental illnesses to mental health facilities and provides crisis intervention training for area law enforcement agencies.
From 2007 to 2010, he served as special advisor on criminal justice and mental health for the Florida Supreme Court, helping produce a groundbreaking report titled "Transforming Florida's Mental Health System." He also has been involved in a number of other efforts to change the system for the better.
Prior to taking his young daughter out for an evening of trick-or-treating, Judge Leifman sat down in his chambers with Miami Today reporter Scott Blake to discuss why he devotes much of his time and career to helping some of society's most vulnerable and troubled citizens.
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