New Resource for Counties Seeking to Advance Racial Equity

May 8, 2023

Counties have increasingly prioritized addressing and eliminating inequities in the criminal justice and behavioral health systems in recent years. But these pervasive inequities can be complex to understand and overwhelming to counties that are just starting to confront them.

The risk of confinement is particularly high for individuals with serious mental illnesses (SMI) who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Members of this population are also less likely than their White counterparts with SMI to have access to and engage in behavioral health and social services in the community upon release from jail.

Applying the Stepping Up Framework to Advance Racial Equity is a new brief that offers a roadmap for addressing these longstanding challenges. The Stepping Up partners have seen from experience that counties implementing the Stepping Up framework are well positioned to work toward racial equity in their local criminal justice and behavioral health systems. Following the six questions blueprint of the Stepping Up initiative, this brief guides Stepping Up counties in applying the tools they already have in place to build policies, programs, and practices that mitigate disparities in the justice and behavioral health systems.

This brief marks a new chapter for the Stepping Up initiative, which has been working to reduce the overincarceration of people with serious mental illnesses since 2015. Moving forward, the Stepping Up initiative will fundamentally incorporate the lens of racial equity into its resources and guidance. Upcoming opportunities for counties to learn more will include webinars, a Community of Practice, the release of a refreshed six questions framework, and peer learning as best practices are identified.

Led by the CSG Justice Center Justice Center, the National Associations of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, Stepping Up has the participation of over 560 counties that are committed to reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. Learn more about Stepping Up.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko via Pexels.

About the author

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Deputy Division Director, Behavioral Health
Risë Haneberg serves as Deputy Division Director, Behavioral Health Division, for the Council of State Governments Justice Center.  In this role Risë leads the Stepping Up Initiative, the national effort to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in
the justice system with partners National Association of Counties (NACo) and the American Psychiatric Foundation (APAF).  Additionally, Risë provides oversight to county systems improvement projects and technical assistance to Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grantee sites. Before joining the CSG Justice Center, Risë served as the criminal justice coordinator for Johnson County, Kansas, from 2008 to 2014. Risë previously served as the chief court service officer in Johnson County and began her career in criminal justice as a juvenile probation officer in 1979. Risë holds a BS in criminal justice from Wichita State University and an MA in public administration from the University of Kansas. 
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