Institute for Health Policy Forum

From Tragedy to Transformation: Reforming Criminal Justice, Policy, and  the Mental Health System

July 15, 2022, 2:00 – 3:15 pm PT

A large share of those with mental illnesses and substance use disorders get caught up in the criminal justice system often with tragic results. There are better ways, including the implementation of diversion programs that create partnerships between mental health, social service providers, and the criminal justice system. Diversion programs are initiatives in which persons with mental health conditions who are involved with the criminal justice system are redirected from traditional criminal justice pathways to mental health and substance use treatment systems and supports. These programs are often cost-effective and transform the lives of those they touch.  

This virtual event will explore how the justice system and mental health and social supports can work together to identify more equitable paths to recovery and reentry into society. To inform this discussion, please view The Definition of Insanity – a documentary that explores an innovative model in Miami-Dade County, Florida for solving the mental health crisis in the criminal justice system.


Norman J. Ornstein, PhD, Emeritus Scholar, American Enterprise Institute, Television News Commentator, Author 

Norman Ornstein is an emeritus 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. Ornstein is Vice President of the Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation, named in memory of his son Matthew, who died accidentally on January 3, 2015 after a ten year struggle with serious mental illness. The Foundation, which sponsors a summer debate institute for public school kids in the Washington, DC area, spearheaded the documentary The Definition of Insanity, which premiered at the Miami Film Festival in March 2020 and was broadcast nationally on PBS in April 2020, about the transformational program on criminal justice and mental illness created by Judge Steve Leifman in Miami-Dade Country, Florida. 

Ornstein was elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004. He was named one of the top 100 global thinkers in 2012 by Foreign Policy Magazine and one of the 250 most influential people in Washington in 2021 by Washingtonian Magazine. His many books include The New York Times bestseller, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks with Tom Mann and One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate and the Not-Yet-Deported (2017) with EJ Dionne and Tom Mann, which 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.  

Judge Steven Leifman, JD, Associate Administrative Judge, Miami-Dade County, Florida 

Judge Steve Leifman is an Associate Administrative Judge of the Miami-Dade County Court. He previously served as Special Advisor on Criminal Justice and Mental Health for the Supreme Court of Florida and currently chairs the Florida Supreme Courts’ Steering Committee on Problem Solving Courts.

Judge Leifman is the co-chair of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Mental Health Committee and co-chair of the Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative. He serves on the Florida Drug Policy Advisory Council and The National Institute on Drug Addiction’s (NIDA) Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network. Judge Leifman is a member of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP), a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and a Voluntary Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Judge Leifman was appointed to serve on the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness and the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) established by the 21st Century Cures Act.

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 a 2016 Governing Magazine Public Official of the Year. More recently, Judge Leifman was awarded the 2020 Dade County Bar Association (DCBA) David W. Dyer Professionalism Award, the 2018 Pardes Humanitarian Prize in Mental Health, the 2019 Yale-NAMI Mental Health Advocacy Award and a 2019 Presidential Commendation by the American Psychiatric Association.

Judge Leifman has been featured in many national and local television programs, radio programs, and articles regarding mental health and the criminal justice system. Judge Leifman is the subject of the Documentary, The Definition of Insanity which aired nationally on PBS on April 14, 2020. His most recent co-authored article on mental health and criminal justice was published in The Atlantic on May 30, 2022.

Don Steigman, President, Jackson Health System

Don Steigman serves as president of Jackson Health System, a role he assumed in 2021, after a decade as Jackson’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. Mr. Steigman is responsible for the largest and most important strategic projects at Jackson, one of the nation’s largest public healthcare systems. He also directs Jackson’s outpatient operations and its academic partnerships, primarily its seven-decade integration with the University of Miami.The Jackson system is anchored by Jackson Memorial Hospital near downtown Miami, home to some of the world’s most admired medical specialties and the academic home of the University of Miami Miller School Medicine. The Jackson system also includes three community hospitals – Jackson North Medical Center, Jackson South Medical Center, and Jackson West Medical Center – as well as Holtz Children’s Hospital & the Women’s Hospital at Jackson Memorial, Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis at UHealth/Jackson Memorial, and Jackson Behavioral Health Hospital, as well as a county-wide network of outpatient clinics, urgent care centers, and long-term care centers.The vast system employs more than 13,000 and has more than 2,500 inpatient beds. As one of the South’s premier medical-education programs, Jackson trains more than 1,100 residents and fellows in numerous physician specialty training programs. Under Mr. Steigman’s leadership, the system has preserved a legacy of world-class medical care in complex subspecialties such as organ transplantation, trauma, neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, high-risk maternity, pediatrics, bariatrics, and neonatology – all while protecting Jackson’s mission of delivering the same high-quality standard of care to all Miami-Dade residents, regardless of their ability to pay. In his first year at Jackson, Mr. Steigman helped lead Jackson’s transformation that reversed years of massive losses, and Jackson has produced a surplus ever since – as key industry measures of healthcare quality and patient satisfaction continuously improved throughout the system. He has also been an integral part of the executive oversight of Jackson’s $1.8 billion Miracle Building capital program, which has led to the construction and opening of two new Jackson hospitals, a network of UHealth Jackson Urgent Care centers throughout Miami-Dade County, renovations at nearly every Jackson facility, and upgrades in technology.

Before joining Jackson, Mr. Steigman was a senior member of Tenet Healthcare’s regional leadership, overseeing 16 hospitals in Florida and Alabama as vice president of operations. He also served as interim chief executive officer for Parkland Healthcare Group during its acquisition of four hospitals, and as CEO and a board member of Auditz, LLC, a healthcare recovery company that provides hospitals with revenue recovery opportunities through proprietary processes and software. Mr. Steigman is the former chair of the Florida Hospital Association and has been a member with the Federation of American Health Systems and the Public Medical Assistance Trust Fund Task Force. Mr. Steigman holds an MBA in healthcare administration from The George Washington University and is the former chairman of the Florida Hospital Association. He lives in Miami Beach.

Anthony Barrueta

Anthony Barrueta,  Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Hospitals


Anthony Barrueta oversees Kaiser Permanente’s legislative and regulatory policy efforts, leading a team of legislative advocates and policy professionals across Kaiser Permanente. He directs development of Kaiser Permanente’s public policy positions in collaboration with senior leadership throughout the organization to ensure Kaiser Permanente maintains a common voice in support of the organization, its members and the communities it serves. Barrueta is a member of the National Executive Team. Prior to joining Kaiser Permanente in 1994, Barrueta was in private law practice in Washington, D.C., specializing in legislative and regulatory advocacy on behalf of health plans, pharmacy benefit management companies, and health-related trade associations. He is immediate past board chair for the Public Health Institute, is a member of the boards of directors of the Alliance of Community Health Plans and the California Latino Economic Institute, and serves on the Statewide Leadership Council for the Public Policy Institute of California.

A native of Washington, Barrueta received a bachelor’s degree in history from Boston College in 1987 and his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991.