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.