In 2018 the county was recognized as one of 16 innovator counties among more than 450 counties that have joined the Stepping Up Initiative, a national effort to divert people with mental illness from jails into treatment.
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:
- Is your leadership committed?
- Do you have timely screening and assessment?
- Do you have baseline data?
- Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
- Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
- Do you track progress?
Inmates who want to move into the new 65-person unit for low-level offenders had to apply to get in. They submitted essays detailing issues they struggle with, goals they have and how they envision a successful recovery.
Retired Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton says this program is worth it. She helped start the Stepping Up initiative in Ohio and says this type of program works.