During this Day of Action, county officials are hosting events or participating in local activities to share with constituents the progress made in addressing the prevalence of people who have mental illnesses in jails; raise public awareness and understanding of this important issue; and emphasize their commitment to creating data-driven, systems-level changes to policy and practice to achieve Stepping Up goals.
Mental Health Media Clips
Benton County Mental Health workers lead officers through case studies to help them understand what happens after police take people who are a danger to themselves or others to the hospital. Those case studies help officers understand what information hospital staff members need from officers who respond to crisis situations.
Nonviolent offenders with mental illness could be diverted away from New Jersey’s mainstream criminal justice system and into a rehabilitation program designed to provide treatment for their psychiatric disorder, under an initiative envisioned by a longtime Democratic Senator that also reflects the goals of a growing national movement.
Kentucky, Indiana, and Arkansas have received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to add work or service requirements to their Medicaid programs; seven other states are seeking such waivers. We spoke with Richard G. Frank about the challenges of determining whether someone is able to work and what happens when people with mental illnesses are denied critical benefits.
Over the last 10 years, Dunn County has been shifting how it approaches criminal justice by leaning less on confinement and looking more toward treatment.
The Laura and John Arnold Foundation is providing money to the Middlesex Sheriff’s Department to help collect and analyze the data gathered by first responders, hospitals, social service organizations and other participating groups to study the response, treatment and results of encounters with frequent utilizers.
Consistently collecting and analyzing this data will not only help counties create a system-wide impact, but also ensure more efficient use of taxpayer dollars.
Closures of state hospitals and limited funding for treatment services has put stress on jail systems across the country, and Dauphin County is no exception. In 2016, 44 percent of the county’s mentally ill inmates returned to prison within a year of their initial booking.
Officials say now, it’s time to make a change.
“In the scheme of things, what they have in place is fairly effective,” said Richard Cho, director of the behavioral health division of the Council of State Governments. “What they need to do is plug in the holes.”
Each year, an estimated 2 million people suffering from mental illness are booked into county jails. In Kansas City, Missouri, like other places around the country, officials are looking for a better way to get those people the help they need to get back on their feet.