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Lessons From America’s 1st Mental Health Court: A New Vision for Mental Health Recovery and Social Justice

Discussion with Judge Lerner-Wren who pioneered the first problem-solving Mental Health Court in the United States, dedicated to the decriminalization and community-based treatment of persons arrested with mental illness and co-occurring disorders. This court has diverted more than 21,000 people out of Broward’s jail. Broward’s Mental Health Court is a national and global model.


Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren earned her B.A. degree in Politics and Public Affairs, 1980, the University of Miami and J.D. from Shepard Broad College of Law, Nova Southeastern University, 1983 and was elected Broward County Court Judge in 1997. In 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Judge Wren to serve on The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health; she chaired the criminal justice subcommittee. In 2013, Judge Wren was selected Top Finalist, Innovating Justice Award, Hiil Foundation, The Hague, and The Netherlands and received National Council Advocacy and Excellence Award “Elected Official Service” in 2015. She serves on the Board of Governors, United Way of Broward County Commission on Behavioral Health and Drug Prevention and the Executive Committee, National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Advisory Board, International Society Therapeutic Jurisprudence. She is the author of, “A Court of Refuge: Stories from the Bench of America’s First Mental Health Court"