Policy Research Associates, Inc. will be partnering with the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, together with other leaders in behavioral health and criminal justice, on an unprecedented effort to lower the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. The STEPPING UP initiative will focus on advancing individuals’ recovery, reducing recidivism, and furthering public safety goals.

The problem is clear: Jails in this country have replaced in-patient mental health facilities as the largest institutional treatment provider for adults with mental illnesses. Each year, more than 2 million people with serious mental illnesses are booked into jails, as well as millions more coping with less serious mental illnesses that jails are required to address. The majority of these individuals also have co-occurring substance use disorders, increasing their chances of staying longer in jail and being reincarcerated following their release.

The centerpiece of the STEPPING UP initiative is a “Call to Action,” in which county leaders work on a concrete, multi-step planning and implementation process that is supported by state policymakers, behavioral health and criminal justice practitioners, and other stakeholders to help achieve measurable results. The Call to Action will be launched in spring 2015. A national summit will also be convened.

Learn more about NACo.

Learn more about the STEPPING UP initiative.