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.
The Dauphin County Board of Commissioners recently endorsed a comprehensive plan that provides concrete steps for the county to take to help reduce the number of people who have serious mental illnesses (SMI) in the local criminal justice system while making more efficient use of resources and increasing public safety.
Based on a quantitative and qualitative analysis, and with the guidance of members of the county’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board and other senior county and state leaders, five key findings were identified that prompted the development of a set of strategic policy recommendations to improve outcomes for people in Dauphin County’s criminal justice system who have SMI. This report includes the key findings and policy recommendations.
How many people in the Dauphin County Prison have a mental illness? The county doesn’t know. A new initiative the county became a part of recently aims to find the answer to that question and a few others.
Leaders in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, recently launched a data-driven project as part of the national Stepping Up initiative, seeking to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in the county prison.