Judge - pioneer 1st mental health court in the U.S.
Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren pioneered the first mental health court in the U.S. in 1997, Broward County, Florida (Seventeenth Judicial Circuit).
Broward's Mental Health is deemed a human rights strategy, and is dedicated to the decriminalization of people arrested with serious mental illnesses, neurological and related cognitive disorders.
Broward's Mental Health Court was the model for federal legislation: The American Law Enforcement and Mental Health Project. Signed into law by President William Jefferson Clinton, 2000.
The Court innovation is a national and international model for problem solving justice and human rights,
Judge Ginger Lerner-Wren graduated from The University of Miami, B.A. Politics and Public Affairs (1980) and Nova Southeastern University College of Law (1983). In 1996, Judge Lerner-Wren was elected to the County Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit of Florida. Judge Lerner-Wren’s prior professional experience included serving as Public Guardian for the 17th Judicial Circuit. As administrator and director of Broward’s guardianship program, Judge Lerner-Wren was responsible for directing and administrating all operations of the program. Her responsibilities included ensuring the health, safety and welfare of disabled adults, through comprehensive case management and client advocacy. Judge Lerner-Wren was responsible for all treatment planning and worked collaboratively with community based social service providers.
In 1993, Judge Lerner-Wren was selected by Florida’s Protection and Advocacy System, The Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities Inc., to oversee the implementation of a Stipulated Consent Decree in the Federal Class Action of Sanbourne v. Chiles, pertaining to South Florida State Psychiatric Hospital. Judge Lerner-Wren served as Plaintiff’s monitor on behalf of the patients at South Florida State Hospital and was responsible for monitoring the adequacy of individualized discharge plans and other related monitoring responsibilities.
In 1997, upon her election to the County Court, Judge Lerner-Wren was assigned to a criminal division, where she was appointed by Chief Judge Dale Ross to pioneer and administrate the nation’s first Mental Health Court. Broward’s Mental Health Court, is a problem solving therapeutic court, dedicated to the safe diversion of people arrested with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance disorders for non-violent misdemeanor offenses.
Broward’s Mental Health Court innovation is a national and international model. The specialized court has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America and NPR. The Court was showcased as a best practice by the U.S. Department of Justice and was the model for the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 2000. Judge Lerner-Wren was appointed by President George W. Bush to the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health where she chaired the Criminal Justice Sub-Committee (2001-2003).
Judge Lerner-Wren has received numerous honors and awards. Most recently in 2015, the National Council for Behavioral Health selected Judge Lerner-Wren Award for Excellence in Advocacy, Elected Official. In 2013, Judge Lerner-Wren was voted “Top Finalist”, Innovating Justice Awards, The Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Law.
Judge Lerner Wren is an adjunct Professor for Nova Southeastern University, College of Psychology, a contributor to Huffington Post and presenter on a wide range of subject matter related to therapeutic jurisprudence, court innovation and mental health and criminal justice.