The Champaign County Jail signed onto the Stepping Up Initiative after Deputy Chief Allen Jones realized the majority of the jail’s “frequent flyers,” who landed in jail five or more times a year, had mental health or substance use issues.
To push the field in this direction, The Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University partnered last fall to interview nearly 50 researchers, national experts and system leaders from across the juvenile justice continuum to solicit their ideas about how juvenile justice systems could significantly improve outcomes for youth.
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.
“Kids don’t belong in prison. We know from the data that when children are incarcerated they usually become repeat offenders,” said Governor John Hickenlooper. “This data-driven review will help us provide youths the best chance to successfully transition to a crime-free, productive adulthood.”
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.
The state Senate embraced criminal justice reform this week by unanimously passing three pieces of legislation comprising the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) II reforms.
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.
A new report says it costs El Paso County $2.7 million to jail thousands of people previously released from jail in 2013. The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center compiled the data for the county.
“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.”