Sheriff Ian Parkinson addressed the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, presenting them with a detailed list of recommendations developed by two ad-hoc committees created as part of the county’s participation in the Stepping Up Initiative.
Mental Health Media Clips
According to the Stepping Up Initiative, about 2 million people with serious mental illnesses are booked into local jails each year. And now representatives from across the state are working together to lower that number.
A nationwide initiative to reduce imprisonment of people with mental illness hosted a two-day summit in State College. The Pennsylvania Stepping Up Summit calls for better practices in evaluating and treating mental illness.
The disappearance of long-term-care facilities and psychiatric beds has escalated over the past decade, sparked by a trend toward deinstitutionalization of psychiatric patients in the 1950s and ’60s, says Dominic Sisti, director of the Scattergood Program for Applied Ethics of Behavioral Health Care at the University of Pennsylvania.
“We’ve got people that are hurting that need help. And they don’t belong in jail. We have got folks in our county doing a life sentence, thirty days at a time, because they are sick,” said Alamance County Deputy Chief Tim Britt.
“The program will be a great benefit for our inmates who suffer from mental illness by creating a more efficient process for completing competency evaluations,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said.
If 3rd Judicial District Judge Mary Rosner has her way, a mental health court will be established in Doña Ana County by 2021. With the help of a $2.8 million grant, a pilot project focusing on assisted outpatient treatment is already underway and could transition into a mental health court.
As presiding judge of Broward’s Misdemeanor Mental Health Court, which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, I strongly urge all interested local public officials and community behavioral health professionals, mental health consumers, family members and disability rights advocates to coalesce around the goals of the Stepping Up Initiative.
The study found that the reductions in state-level crime rates were largest in counties that experienced the largest changes in insurance rates following the expansion of Medicaid eligibility in 2014.
“I’d like to see Alabama as a ‘Stepping Up’ state,” Lynn Beshear, Alabama’s mental health commissioner, said. “I’ve been in touch with Ohio on how they did that.” Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services director Tracy Plouck serves on the board of directors for the Council of State Governments Justice Center, and was an early champion of the nationwide initiative.