University News

Champion of Mental Health Services, Justice Reform Sheriff Thomas J. Dart to Address Adler Graduates in Chicago 07.14.15
Champion of Mental Health Services, Justice Reform Sheriff Thomas J. Dart to Address Adler Graduates in Chicago

Adler University is pleased to announce that Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart will address graduates at the University’s 2015 Commencement ceremonies in Chicago.

The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m., on Sunday, October 18, at the Chicago Theater. Adler University President Raymond E. Crossman, Ph.D., will present Dart with an honorary doctorate from the University for his commitment to mental health services and justice reform. Following the presentation, Dr. Crossman will confer degrees to the Class of 2015 graduates as faculty present the graduates with their new academic hoods.

A former prosecutor and state legislator, Sheriff Dart has fought to protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Time magazine named Sheriff Dart one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2009. Since becoming Sheriff in 2006, he has introduced sweeping changes at the Cook County Jail, the nation’s largest single site jail. At the Cook County Department of Corrections, the Sheriff oversees a population of more than 12,000 that includes inmates both housed on-site and ordered to alternative programs such as electronic monitoring.

From addressing concerns surrounding general overcrowding and a growing mental health population to developing environmentally sustainable initiatives for inmates, Sheriff Dart has been hailed for his progressive reforms to improve and maintain the safety and security of all those housed and employed at the Cook County Jail. There are approximately 2,500-3,000 people with diagnosed mental illness housed in the jail on any given day, making it the largest mental health facility in the country.

Sheriff Dart believes that a service provider is a far more productive setting than a jail for those with mental illness. In 2013, he launched the Office of Mental Health Policy & Advocacy, which operates a 24-hour Care Line for mentally ill ex-inmates and families of current mentally ill inmates, while screening all pre-bond detainees for mental illness. In the spring, he named a clinical psychologist to lead Cook County Jail.

Under Sheriff Dart’s direction, Cook County Sheriff’s Police assign specialized gang units to curb suburban gang activity through their focus on aggressive regional tactical work, supporting smaller suburban police departments unable to handle the crime rates on their own. He reformed the way Sheriff’s Police handle prostitution arrests– steering sex workers toward rehabilitative services through the Sheriff’s Women’s Justice Program rather than jail.

The Child Exploitation Unit, also founded under Dart, actively pursues child pornography and human trafficking cases. Sheriff Dart also overhauled the county’s approach to foreclosure evictions – ensuring that evictees receive proper notice before being put out on the street and offering on-site social services geared towards families with school-age children, the elderly, and individuals suffering from mental illness.

Sheriff Dart and his office partnered with Adler Community Health Services earlier this year to establish a courthouse-based mental health clinic and diversion program to service Chicago's south suburbs. This first-of-its-kind program is receiving regional and national recognition for early successes, and is intended as a model for more courthouses and other jurisdictions across the country.

About Adler University

Adler University educates students to engage the world and create a more just society. Established in 1952, it enrolls more than 1,400 students in master’s and doctoral programs for social change through its campuses in downtown Chicago and Vancouver, as well as an Online Campus. Adler University’s mission is to continue the pioneering work of Alfred Adler, the first community psychologist, by graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities and advancing social justice.