Media Release

Press Conference For $999k Grant

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 12:00 AM

5:30 p.m.

ALACHUA COUNTY, FL - The Florida Substance Abuse and Mental Health Corporation in partnership with the Florida Department of Children and Families has awarded Alachua County a 3-year grant totaling $999,000.00.  A press conference will be held to announce the grant on Friday, February 1, 2008 at 11:30 a.m. in the exterior public area by the main entrance of the Criminal Justice Center located at 220 S Main Street, Gainesville, FL. Speakers at the press conference will include Alachua County Commission Chairman Rodney J. Long, Department of Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth, Circuit Administrative Judge Martha Ann Lott and Alachua County Jail Director Robert Woody.

In speaking of the grant,  Secretary Butterworth, said, "This much needed funding will allow Alachua County to address one of the Department's greatest priorities head on.  It is critical that at-risk adults and children have easy access to substance abuse and mental health treatment services before they ever have a chance to break the law."

Chairman Long said, "The Alachua County Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Grant Planning Committee has been working long and hard to address the issue of mental health and the criminal justice system.  It is gratifying to see these efforts bear fruit." 

The purpose of the Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Reinvestment Grant Program is to provide funding to counties with which they can plan, implement, or expand initiatives that increase public safety, avert increased spending on criminal justice, and improve the accessibility and effectiveness of treatment services.  The grant targets for adults and juveniles who have a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder, or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders and who are in, or at risk of entering the criminal or juvenile justice systems.  Up to 70 persons will receive services at any given time.  The project will serve approximately 150 persons annually, with services provided to assist participants for a period of 4 to 6 months. 

According to Alachua County Court Services Director, Cyndi Morton, "The funds provided by this grant will meet a long-standing need.  The availability of treatment services has not kept up with the growth in the community and there are many unmet needs."

Commissioner Rodney J. Long served as chairperson for the collaboration of community agencies that comprised the Alachua County Criminal Justice, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse Grant Planning Committee.  Circuit Judge Martha Ann Lott, Administrative Judge of the Criminal Division of the 8th Circuit, was the chair of the inter-agency subcommittee that prepared the successful grant.  The collaboration of key stakeholders and citizens was crucial in developing the successful grant application.  Partnering agencies included Alachua County Board of County Commissioners, the Department of Children and Families Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, the Eighth Judicial Circuit Court, Alachua County Sheriff's Office, the Office of the State Attorney, the Office of the Public Defender, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, North Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Gainesville Police Department, Alachua County Department of Court Services and Peaceful Paths.

Meridian Healthcare President and CEO Margarita Labarta commented, "As a mental health and substance abuse treatment provider, Meridian is very excited by the opportunity to work with our criminal justice system and law enforcement to make treatment an alternative for this very needy population."

For more information, contact Alachua County Court Services Director Cyndi Morton at 352-338-7390







  • Mark Sexton
  • Communications & Legislative Affairs Director
  • Phone: 352-374-5204
  • Cell: 352-283-2317

If you have a disability and need an accommodation in order to participate in a County program, service or public meeting, please contact the Alachua County Equal Opportunity Office at 352-374-5275 at least 2 business days prior to the event. TTY users please call 711 (Florida Relay Service).