Join the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum for this special exploration of the PBS documentary The Definition of Insanity. The film chronicles the Miami-Dade Criminal Mental Health Project, an innovative prison diversion program. The Definition of Insanity illustrates how one local judge’s novel approach to solving the mental health crisis could be the model to tackle the much larger epidemic throughout America.
The Jail Diversion Project comes to life in this documentary, following a team of dedicated public servants working through the courts to steer people with mental illness — as their court cases hang in the balance — on a path from incarceration to recovery.
Panelists include key public servants featured in the documentary with discussion facilitated by Nancy La Vigne, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute.
Norman Ornstein, Vice President, Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation
Nancy G. La Vigne, Vice President, Justice Policy, Urban Institute
Alejandro Aristizábal, Felony Diversion Program Manager, Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida
Sgt. John Blackerby, City of Miami PD
Habsi Kaba, Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator, Miami-Dade County
Judge Steven Leifman, Associate Administrative Judge, Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida
Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney, Miami-Dade County
(See full bios, below)
Watch the film, then join us for the event!
The film is available for screening:
This program was made possible by Target.
Norman Ornstein is Vice President of the Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation, www.mornstein.org, which was the catalyst for creation of the film The Definition of Insanity. He is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He is a contributing editor and writer for The Atlantic and has been an election eve analyst for CBS News and BBC News. He is also Chairman of the Board of the Campaign Legal Center.
He served as a senior counselor to the Continuity of Government Commission and co-directed the AEI-Brookings Project on alternatives to the Independent Counsel Act. Mr. Ornstein led a working group of scholars and practitioners that helped shape the law, known as McCain-Feingold, which reformed the campaign financing system. He was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. His many books include Intensive Care: How Congress Shapes Health Policy; The Broken Branch: How Congress Is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track, with Tom Mann; and The New York Times bestseller, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism, also with Tom Mann (2012, named Book of the Year by Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog, one of the ten best books on politics in 2012 by The New Yorker, and one of the best books of 2012 by The Washington Post. An expanded edition, retitled It’s Even Worse Than It Was, was published in 2016. His latest book, with EJ Dionne and Tom Mann, One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate and the Not-Yet-Deported (2017) was immediately on the New York Times and Washington Post bestseller lists. Ornstein has a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MA and PhD from the University of Michigan. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from his alma mater in 2007. Ornstein was spotlighted as one of 2012’s 100 Top Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy Magazine.
Nancy La Vigne is vice president for justice policy at the Urban Institute where she publishes research on prisoner reentry, criminal justice technologies, crime prevention, policing, and the spatial analysis of crime and criminal behavior. Before joining the Urban Institute, La Vigne was founding director of the Crime Mapping Research Center at the National Institute of Justice. She later was special assistant to the assistant attorney general for the Office of Justice Programs within the US Department of Justice. She has also been research director for the Texas sentencing commission, research fellow at the Police Executive Research Forum, and consultant to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
La Vigne was executive director for the bipartisan Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections Reform and was founding chair of the Crime and Justice Research Alliance. She served on the board of directors for the Consortium of Social Science Associations from 2015 through 2018. She has testified before Congress and has been featured on NPR and in the Atlantic, New York Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune.
La Vigne holds a BA in government and economics from Smith College, an MA in public affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD in criminal justice from Rutgers University.
Judge Steve Leifman is the Associate Administrative Judge of the Miami-Dade County Court – Criminal Division. From 2007 – 2010, Judge Leifman served as Special Advisor on Criminal Justice and Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida. From 2010 to 2018, Judge Leifman chaired the Florida Supreme Court’s Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Court. He currently chairs the Steering Committee on Problem Solving Courts for the Supreme Court of Florida and the Mental Health Committee for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. In 2000, Judge Leifman established the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, which aims to divert people with serious mental illnesses from the criminal justice system into treatment. Judge Leifman is the co-chair of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Mental Health Committee. He is also a Gubernatorial appointment to the Florida Statewide Task Force on Opioid Abuse and a member of The National Institute on Drug Addiction’s (NIDA) Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network.
In 2015, Judge Leifman received the William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence. One of the nation’s highest judicial honors presented by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., the Rehnquist Award is presented annually to a state court judge who exemplifies judicial excellence, integrity, fairness, and professional ethics. Judge Leifman is also the first recipient to receive the Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Award for Judicial Excellence (2015). He was named by New Times as one of Miami-Dade’s most interesting people of 2017 and a 2016 Governing Magazine Public Official of the Year. More recently, Judge Leifman was awarded the 2018 Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health, the 2019 Yale-NAMI Mental Health Advocacy Award, a 2019 Presidential Commendation by the American Psychiatric Association and the 2019 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Public Service Award.
Judge Leifman has been featured in many national and local television programs, radio programs and articles regarding mental health and the criminal justice system. He has appeared as a guest on many Podcasts and has authored and published numerous articles and book chapters on mental illnesses and the criminal justice system.
Katherine Fernandez Rundle was appointed State Attorney for Miami-Dade County in 1993 and has subsequently been re-elected seven times to serve as State Attorney. She went on to obtain her law degree from the prestigious Cambridge University in England. State Attorney Fernandez Rundle prides herself in being a career crime fighter and program innovator. She has dedicated herself to every cause imaginable in her relentless commitment to keep our streets safe and is recognized as a pioneer in the creation of numerous programs dealing with issues that affect our community daily such as teen truancy, domestic violence, mental health and substance abuse, child support, human trafficking, and victim’s rights.
As the legal arm of over 35 different police departments in Miami-Dade County, the office’s mission is to see that the guilty are convicted while the rights of the innocent are protected. The State Attorney’s Office prides itself in being the voice for every victim that is wronged by crime. In addition to seeing that justice is carried out, her office is the only prosecutor’s office in the state that protects the rights of children with the creation and enforcement of a strict child support program that annually processes over 90,000 cases. Other innovative programs to help prevent crime and provide rehabilitative opportunities established under the leadership and tenure of State Attorney Fernandez Rundle are the highly successful Drug Court, Mental Health Felony and Misdemeanor Diversion Programs, Veteran’s Court, the Juvenile Gun Offenders Program and the Second Chance Sealing and Expungement programs.
Alejandro M. Aristizábal is the Team Leader of the 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project, Felony Mental Health Jail Diversion Program, in Miami-Dade County Florida. The project assists over 400 participants on a yearly basis; its mission is to successfully transition adults with serious mental illnesses from institutional settings such as jails and hospitals, to the community and provide support with supervision. With 20 years of experience in the behavioral healthcare and criminal justice field, Alejandro found his niche in the criminal justice system amidst one of the nation’s largest court systems. He holds a Masters of Business Administration in Public Management, from Florida International University (FIU).
His responsibilities include coordination, administration, and supervision of program operations, including hiring, training, support, and evaluation of staff. He provides ample training for the judiciary, law enforcement, attorneys, criminal court personnel, community housing and treatment providers to improve re-entry for persons with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders. His experience include strategic planning, program development, budget management, quality improvement, compliance, and outcome management. Alejandro has been successful in promoting cross-systems collaboration among the Miami-Dade County Criminal Courts, Corrections & Rehabilitation Department, psychiatric hospitals, and community stakeholders. His role is key in integrating these large systems and facilitating effective communication among them.
Habsi W. Kaba began her career in rehabilitation and recovery within the mental health field, 25 years ago. As a Marriage and Family Therapist, her passion as an educator and public speaker, has inspired her work to create understanding, compassion and connections within the behavioral health, criminal justice and first responder community. Since 2003, Habsi has led the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project’s CIT Program, in Miami-Dade County. She has trained over 15,000 first responders, 911 personnel, mental health professionals, government officials, including the private sector. Habsi has served as a consultant for government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security U.S. ICE Hostage Negotiation Team. Habsi is an internationally recognized expert in the field of crisis intervention best practices, curriculum design and development, trauma, first responder self-care, de-escalation, and police mental health collaboration. She shares her experience as a boundary spanner and resource facilitator, implementation of behavioral health criminal justice initiatives, systems transformation, and community liaison services. In 2014, Habsi was named CIT International Coordinator of the Year and in 2019, joined the CIT International Board of Directors.
Sergeant John R. Blackerby III has been with the City of Miami Police Department for 22 years. Within his capacity as a police officer, Sergeant Blackerby spent 9 years as a K9 handler and four as a trainer. In 2013, he was promoted to Police Sergeant, supervising units in Patrol, the Overtown Problem Solving Team (PST) and Overtown’s first Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Patrol Unit. He is currently active as a Patrol Supervisor in the Upper East Side NET as a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) and Field Training Sergeant (FTS). Sergeant Blackerby has been married for 18 years and has 4 children.