Butler County has earned high praise from a former Ohio Supreme Court justice and could secure more funding to continue the battle against mental health and incarceration issues, officials said.
Stepping Up Initiative
Since May 2015, more than 450 counties have passed resolutions to join Stepping Up, a national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.
Recognizing the critical role local and state officials play in supporting change, the National Association of Counties (NACo), The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF) are leading this unprecedented national initiative.
NACo, the CSG Justice Center, and APAF are working with partner organizations to build on the foundation of innovative and evidence-based practices already being implemented across the country, and to bring these efforts to scale. These partners have expertise in the complex issues addressed by Stepping Up and include sheriffs, jail administrators, judges, community corrections professionals and treatment providers, consumers, advocates, behavioral health directors, and other stakeholders.
Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask serves as a blueprint for counties to assess their existing efforts to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in jail by considering specific questions and progress-tracking measures.
Here are the six questions county leaders need to ask:
- Is your leadership committed?
- Do you have timely screening and assessment?
- Do you have baseline data?
- Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
- Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
- Do you track progress?
Risë Haneberg, deputy division director for county initiatives for the CSG Justice Center, explains that since its inception, the Stepping Up initiative has gotten nearly 500 counties in 43 states to “focus on early forms of diversion” to keep mentally ill people from getting trapped in the penal system.
When the current Boone County Jail was built in 1991—with 184 beds—it was soon packed to capacity. Boone County Commissioner Janet Thompson said this was when the county began to work on lowering the jail population.