Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails

Codington County, like many counties around the nation deals with the problem of people with mental illnesses in our jail.  To focus resources and attention on this problem, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Council of State Governments (CSG) launched the Stepping Up Initiative.  The goals Stepping Up are:

  1. Reduce the number of people booked into jail with behavioral health disorders.
  2. Reduce the length of time people with mental illnesses stay in jail.
  3. Increase connections between people with mental illness and community-based  services and support.
  4. Reduce the number of people returning to jail.

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In June, 2014, Codington County was the first county in South Dakota to adopt a “Stepping Up” resolution.  This resolution outlines the following steps:

    1. Convene a a diverse team of leaders and stakeholders
    2. Collect and review data on the prevalence of people with mental illnesses in jails and assess their treatment needs
    3. Examine treatment and service capacity and identify policy and resource barriers
    4. Develop a plan with measurable outcomes
    5. Implement research-based approaches
    6. Create a process to track and report on progress