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How Counties Are Keeping People With Mental Illnesses Out of Jails and Improving Public Safety

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2020
2 pages
After describing the goals and features of the Stepping Up national initiative, this brief report reviews the current extent of its adoption by states and counties and outlines the steps for a jurisdiction to adopt Stepping Up.
The goal of Stepping Up is to curtail the over-incarceration of people with mental illnesses and substance-use disorders. It does this by 1) increasing collaboration among behavioral health, criminal justice, homelessness, and other systems in developing cooperative solutions; 2) using data to inform effective policy decisions; and 3) implementing high-impact strategies that focus on diversion from incarceration of people with mental illness or substance-use disorders. For counties that choose to adopt Stepping Up, the federal government provides the resources and tools needed to implement the program's components. Currently, 520 counties across 43 states have adopted Stepping Up, serving 47 percent of the U.S. population. Some examples of the successes of Stepping Up are described for some states and counties. The steps for a jurisdiction to become a partner in Stepping Up are 1) to visit StepUpTogether.org, 2) pass a resolution to join the initiative, and 3) subscribe to receive the latest information.

Date Published: August 1, 2020