An Analysis of the Effectiveness of a Mental Health Court in Sarasota County, Florida

By the Honorable Erika Nikla Quartermaine with the assistance of Dalton Tritschler

By the Honorable Erika Nikla Quartermaine with the assistance of Dalton Tritschler
Author

Sarasota, Florida is a picturesque destination with beautiful beaches, a vibrant art and culture scene, and extreme wealth. Like many communities in Florida, Sarasota experienced a growing number of individuals suffering through homelessness over the past two decades, a time period that happens to coincide with the closure of mental health facilities in the State. Many people viewed this growing homeless population as a blight on Sarasota’s beauty and economic wellness.  The lack of resources for those experiencing homelessness coupled with a lack of educated leadership on the issue resulted in conflict within the community and ultimately the criminalization of homelessness.  In 2006, Sarasota earned the distinction as the “Meanest City” in the United States from the National Coalition for the Homelessness.  Since that time, Sarasota has undertaken a number of actions to address homelessness and the actions of the community are now serving as a role model for other communities. In 2018, a Sarasota Herald-Tribune columnist listed the various efforts and described Sarasota as going from “meanest to most humane.” 

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