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  • Decriminalizing Mental Illness Conference

    Decriminalizing Mental Illness Conference


    Keynote Speaker

    Judge Steven Leifman of Miami/Dade County, Florida (click picture for bio)

    What Was It

    The first‐of‐its‐kind conference in Pima County and Southern Arizona bringing together respected local and national leaders in the specialized field of mental health diversion. Workshops, panel discussions, and speakers spotlighted the need for alternatives to jail for local courts and law enforcement,  who frequently encounter people with untreated or undertreated mental illnesses that are often coupled with substance‐use disorders. Topics included the impacts of incarceration on communities and families. The conference also featured a resource fair for mental health and social justice service providers.


    While the United States has just 5% of the world’s population, its jails and prisons hold nearly 25% of global prisoners. According to some reports, jails across the nation serve an estimated 2 million people with mental illnesses each year – almost three‐quarters of whom also have substance use disorders. That’s why jurisdictions like Pima County continue to work to develop arrest, pretrial, and sentencing options to provide alternatives to incarceration for individuals with mental illnesses.

    Conference Video

    Conference Highlights

    Nuts and Bolts of Creating a Diversion Program

    Conference Information

    Download a copy of the Agenda and powerpoints below.

    2017 Program

    Day One Powerpoint

    Day Two Powerpoint

    Dr. Steadman Powerpoint 

    Ms. Schwartz Powerpoint

    Thank you for your interest in the Decriminalizing Mental Illness Conference, we have been overwhelmed with interest from the community and the conference was a success. We hope you continue to check out our Safety and Justice Challenge for further opportunities to assist Pima County in these efforts, if you would like to know how to get further involved, please contact Terrance Cheung at 520-724-8770 or at

    Title Sponsors


    Presenting Sponsors


    Family Sponsors



    Old Pueblo Community Services

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    Safety + Justice Challenge Grant

    Wendy Petersen
    Assistant County Administrator
    (520) 724-8849

    Kate Vesely
    Director of Justice Reform Initiatives
    (520) 724-3062

    32 N. Stone Ave.
    3rd Floor
    Tucson, AZ 85701

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