Stepping Up Initiative

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 Foundation (APF) are leading an unprecedented national initiative to help advance counties’ efforts to reduce the number of adults with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in jails. To build on the foundation of innovative and evidence-based practices already being implemented across the country, and to bring these efforts to scale, NACo, the CSG Justice Center, and APF are working with partner organizations with expertise in the complex issues addressed by the initiative, including those representing sheriffs, jail administrators, judges, community corrections professionals and treatment providers, consumers, advocates, mental health and drug abuse service directors, and other stakeholders.

The initiative has three key components:

  1. A Call to Action
  2. Technical Assistance
  3. A National Summit
The initiative will align state and local efforts and include activities that state officials and other stakeholders can engage in to complement counties’ work. The summit is supported by APF, while other aspects of the initiative are supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

To learn more about the initiative, visit the Stepping Up Initiative homepage

Download Project Overview (PDF)

More Resources

Opinion: Push Is on to Reduce Incarceration in Champaign County While Also Providing Meaningful Reentry Options for Adults with Mental Illness

Call it what you will—jail overcrowding, criminal justice reform, a mental health crisis in our jails, mass incarceration or chronic recidivism. All have been the subject of discussions both nationally and locally. The simple fact is there are too many people in our jails and prisons who do not need to be there. As a society, we pay a high cost for poor outcomes.

County Leaders Step Up to Reduce Incarceration of Mentally Ill People

“Data” was the word of the day at the Stepping Up Summit, held April 17 to 19 in Washington, D.C. Teams from 50 U.S. counties gathered at the summit, the latest event held by the Stepping Up Initiative, which seeks to reduce the numbers of people with mental illness in America’s county jails. The initiative is sponsored by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.

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