(4-11-23) A few months ago, I was contacted by Lisa Taliaferro, who was launching a new non-profit called Patients Not Prisoners based in St. Augustine, Florida. She’d read my book and wanted to use it to help draw attention to the inappropriate incarceration of Americans with mental illnesses.
What I didn’t know at the time was that Lisa Taliaferro, who has mental illness in her family, is an energetic and tireless advocate. Within a few weeks, she had gotten her fledging group off-the-ground and had begun planning community events.
I was excited last night to speak via Zoom to the first meeting of a book club that Lisa started. The group is studying, CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness and hopes to use it to create discussions about why jails and prisoners have become warehouses for the seriously mentally ill and what communities can do to change this trend.
The zoom based book club is free and will meet every Monday from now until May 15th. Lisa wasn’t content just with starting a single book club. She developed a free study guide to use with CRAZY that can be downloaded and she is offering advice about how to start book clubs that will feature CRAZY and other books focused on mental illnesses and law enforcement.
“Patients Not Prisoners‘ goal is to bring communities and first responders together to create and capitalize on empathetic solutions to bridge the gaps of our current systems,” she told me.
On May 20th, I will be giving a keynote speech in St. Augustine during A Day Of Compassion program that Lisa and Patients Not Prisoners is sponsoring. The program will feature Jameila “Meme” Styles, founder of We Measure. According to its webpage, Jameila Styles “challenged the Austin Police Department to ‘show me the numbers’ they were using to report the results of agency performance measures. Realizing the disconnect between the department’s big data reporting and the community, Ms. Styles was prompted to create a methodology to measure community policing.”
If you live in the St. Augustine area, please attend. Meanwhile, start a book club discussion!
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