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In Focus: Prioritizing Policy, Practice, and Funding Improvements

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2020
5 pages
This brief guides counties through the process of defining the most important policy, practice, and funding changes that assist in reducing the number of people in jails who have serious mental illnesses (SMI).
This material is part of the training provided under the Stepping Up Initiative, which is a national effort to reduce the number of jail residents who have mental illnesses. Counties that have joined Stepping Up are using the initiative's framework document entitled "Reducing the Number of People With Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need To Ask." This document guides counties in creating collaborative partnerships in their jurisdictions that facilitate the systematic identification of people who have mental illnesses as they enter county jails. Data are used to inform strategies and track progress over time. The current brief is one of a series of companion products that provide participating counties with additional guidance on how to apply the Stepping Up framework. This brief features an outline of procedures for prioritizing policy, practice, and funding improvements in achieving the goal of Stepping Up in reducing the number of jail residents with mental illnesses. Prioritization is necessary in using sustainable resources to support efforts that can have the most significant impact on reducing incarceration for people with SMI. The following six steps in prioritization are discussed: 1) Start with baseline data and the results of the process analysis; 2) Calculate the projected impact of proposed improvements; 3) Identify readily attainable Improvements; 4) Develop consensus; 5) Obtain buy-in; and 6) Determine how to fund cross-system improvement efforts.