Media Release

Stepping Up Mental Health Discussion

Tuesday, October 4, 2016 3:00 PM

The Stepping Up InitiativeALACHUA COUNTY, FL – The public is invited to a discussion with Judge Steven Leifman and Leon Evans on cutting-edge community mental health programs that have been developed as part of the Stepping Up Initiative – a national initiative aimed at reducing the number of people with mental illness that are in jail. The discussion is on Monday, October 10, 2016, at 6 p.m., at the Bob Graham Center (Pugh Hall, Ocora, 396 Buckman Drive, UF Campus). The event is free and open to the public. It will be live on CSPAN and streamed live at the Bob Graham Center website.

The event is co-sponsored by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service.

The Honorable Judge Steve Leifman of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida is the recipient of William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. He received the award for his groundbreaking work helping people with mental illnesses.

Mr. Leon Evans, the chief executive officer of the Center for Health Care Services in Bexar County, Texas, developed an award-winning jail diversion program and has become a national leader in improving mental health care through multi-stakeholder collaboration.

Judge Leifman and Mr. Evans are also presenting to the Alachua County Commission at their Regular Meeting on Tuesday, October 11, at 9 a.m. in the Jack Durrance Auditorium (Room 209) on the second floor of the Alachua County Administration Building (12 S.E. 1st Street, downtown Gainesville). The public is encouraged to attend this meeting, view it live on Cox Channel 12, or on the County’s Video on Demand website.

Also on October 10, and 11, Judge Leifman, Mr. Evans, and others will have multiple presentations for law enforcement officers, mental health providers, attorneys and court services personnel. For information on the times and locations of these non-public events, contact Judy Broward at 352-213-6308 or

Stepping Up Alachua County is part of the National Stepping Up Initiative. Alachua County was one of 50 counties chosen, out of 250 who applied, to attend the National Stepping Up Initiative in Washington DC in April and to receive grant funding for mental health education and awareness. Alachua County was chosen for this grant because it already has innovative programs in place, such as Mental Health Court, Drug Court, and Veteran’s Court.

Nationally, thirty-five percent of individuals in jail or prison are receiving psychiatric medications or treatment. Stepping Up is a national movement to reduce the number of people with mental illness ending up in jail or prison.

These events were made possible through the work of a planning committee made up of representations from National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Gainesville, the Alachua County Commission, the Gainesville Police Department, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Bob Graham Center, the Alachua County Crisis Center, Alachua County Court Services, the Public Defender’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, and former County Commissioner, Paula Delaney.

For more information, contact Judy Broward at 352-213-6308 or


  • Mark Sexton
  • Communications & Legislative Affairs Director
  • Phone: 352-374-5204
  • Cell: 352-283-2317

If you have a disability and need an accommodation in order to participate in a County program, service or public meeting, please contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275 at least 2 business days prior to the event. TTY users please call 711 (Florida Relay Service).