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:

  1. Is your leadership committed?
  2. Do you have timely screening and assessment?
  3. Do you have baseline data?
  4. Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
  5. Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
  6. Do you track progress?

More Resources

Sheriff Backs “Stepping Up” Program

Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart said he is entirely behind the Chambers County Commission’s efforts to treat mental health needs inside the county jail.

In Focus: Conducting a Comprehensive Process Analysis

In Focus: Conducting a Comprehensive Process Analysis

This brief from the Stepping Up partners presents counties with steps for examining how people who have serious mental illnesses move through a county’s criminal justice and behavioral health systems, it is one of a series of companion products designed to provide counties with further guidance on how to apply the Stepping Up framework “Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask.”

Pitt County Jail Aims to Reduce Recidivism and Substance Use Relapse

The Pitt County department has a jail “navigator” who helps place people into safe housing and reconnect them to benefits upon their release. The sheriff’s office is also preparing to launch a new treatment program for drug users housed in the jail.