Course Corrections: National Public Defenders Summit Compendium

March 28 and 29, 2018

On March 28 and 29, 2018, 70 public defenders from 21 states and the District of Columbia convened in Denver for Course Corrections: National Public Defenders Summit on Mental Health and Criminal Justice. The purpose of this gathering was to build consensus regarding priorities for policy and practice reform to improve mental health, reduce incarceration, and increase national prosperity and wellbeing.

Course Corrections conclusions and recommendations now published!

View the Document

Read Denverite's press coverage of the event here.

Intervention & Diversion

Abigail Tucker, Psy.D., Clinical Director of Intensive Services, Community Reach Center, Colorado

View her presentation.

View the Jail Data Collection Dashboard Demo.
SAMHSA GAINS Center Sequential Intercept Model Map

Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail

Final Recommendations: Mental Health/Point of Contact Through Jail Release Task Force  

See HIPAA Compliance Resources below.*

Evaluations & Competency

Patrick Fox, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Colorado Department of Human Services; Medical Director, Office of Behavioral Health

View his presentation.

View Dr. Fox's Medication Consistency presentation (from a past event).

Keynote Speaker: Judge Steven Leifman

Associate Administrative Judge, Miami-Dade County, Florida

About Judge Leifman


Judge Steven Leifman is the Associate Administrative Judge of the Miami-Dade County Court's Criminal Division. He also chairs the Florida Supreme Court's Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Court and the Mental Health Committee for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, where he created the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project. This highly successful program diverts non-violent defendants with mental illnesses away from the criminal justice system. Leifman has received numerous awards, including the 2015 William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence, one of the nation's highest judicial honors. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. presented the award to Leifman during a ceremony at the U.S. Supreme Court in November 2015. He has also authored and published numerous articles and book chapters on mental illnesses and the criminal justice system. He received his J.D. from Florida State University College of Law and his B.S. from American University.

On March 28th, Judge Leifman shared this shocking video as part of his keynote address on the state of Florida's treatment of mentally ill inmates and the ways in which his county led the cause for change.

What a Difference a Decade Makes

Forgotten Floor Web Extra from Steve Leifman on Vimeo.

Due to his relentless efforts and inspiring advocacy, Judge Leifman was able to create change in the Miami-Dade Jail. See the CBS Miami story on how the "Forgotten Floor" was closed and replaced with a safer, cleaner, more humane treatment facility for acutely mentally ill inmates.

Additional resources from Judge Leifman's Presentation:

ABA Criminal Justice and Mental Health Standards

LEAP Training
Because of poor insight into the illness and poor adherence to treatment, many persons with mental illnesses are unable, or unwilling, to utilize available drug therapies and mental health services. They often exist at the margins of society. LEAP is a set of communication and problem solving skills. The LEAP (Listen-Empathize-Agree-Partner) training teaches participants a set of evidence-based practices to strengthen mutual respect and trust with the aim of developing effective partnerships among a range of persons in a variety of settings.

Trueblood et al v. Washington State

WA State DSHS Background on Trueblood decision

Information on Judge Leifman's reform program information can be found here.

Defenses & Specialty Courts

Ed Monahan, J.D., National Criminal and Public Defense Consultant; Former Chief Defender, Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy

View his presentation.

Improving Effective Advocacy by Defense Counsel of Defendants with Mental Illness in District Court Criminal Cases (Gormley, P. July, 2013)

Hard Cases - Testing Conclusions

Douglas K. Wilson, J.D., Colorado State Public Defender; Adjunct Faculty, University of Colorado Law School

View his presentation.

Colorado Senate Bill 17-207: Concerning Strengthening Colorado's Statewide Response to Behavioral Health Crises, and, in Connection Therewith, Making an Appropriation.
More on SB 207

Final Recommendations: Mental Health/Point of Contact Through Jail Release Task Force  

Incompetency to Proceed - Standards from 16 States

Remarks from Colorado Governor John W. Hickenlooper

*Resources by Topic:

Early Childhood

Coverage & Care

Supportive Housing

Supported Employment

Public Safety Officer Training & Transformation

Access to Justice


Resources Needed


Resources Needed

Policy & Culture Change

Data Collection, Analysis, Application

Mental Health Center of Denver's Criminal Justice Teams on Data Collection and Management

Regarding their Criminal Justice Team:
"The Mental Health Center of Denver also runs a number of other criminal justice related teams where the issue of privacy data management comes up.  Since these teams are less crisis oriented in nature than the Co-Responder team, we need to obtain  releases of information that apply to all of the parties involved, i.e. the courts, the public defender, probation officers, parole officers etc.  The Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission created a uniform release of information that often helps with this process.  I’ve attached a brief description of our other criminal justice teams.

Regarding their Co-responder Team:

"Essentially when we set this program up we were incredible intentional to keep our data systems separated from DPD. This included not only police not having access to our Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system, but also clinicians not having access to police data base. This was to both insure that all Co-Responder entities were staying “in their lane” as well as ensuring that all protected info was maintained in either a behavioral health system accessed by clinicians, or legal systems maintained by legal authorities."

“All data reported out to the city, DPD, and community is aggregate in information and never will inform specifically on an individual client.”

What's next for Course Corrections? See where Equitas will next convene a Summit.