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Ohio Stepping Up Initiative to Reduce Jail Incarceration

Stepping Up is a national initiative targeted at reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. Without change, large numbers of people with mental illnesses (many with co-occurring substance use disorders) will continue to cycle through the criminal justice system, often resulting in missed opportunities to link them to treatment, tragic outcomes, inefficient use of funding, and failure to improve public safety.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) is collaborating with other leading organizations and local experts to support the common goal. The Stepping Up initiative engages a diverse group of organizations, including those representing sheriffs, jail administrators, judges, community corrections professionals, treatment providers, people with mental illnesses and their families, mental health and substance use program directors, and other stakeholders. Through its Community Innovations grants, which began in 2014, OhioMHAS took action to help counties reduce the number of criminal offenders with untreated mental illness and/or substance use disorders who continually cycle through county jails.

Working Definition of a Serious Mental Illness

(Memo from Tracy J. Plouck, Director, OhioMHAS, dated November 8, 2017)


Contact Us

Chris Nicastro, LPCC-S
Cheif, Bureau of Criminal Justice Services
30 E. Broad St., 8th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215


Participating Counties
Stepping Up Map


Stepping Up Spotlight: Franklin County
 Featuring: Michael Daniels, Justice Policy Coordinator, Department of Homeland Security and Justice Programs
 Michael Daniels
Check out what is happening in our Stepping Up counties! We are now capturing counties live. Click here for are archived spotlight videos! 



Featuring: Four Ways You Can Benefit
Four Ways You Can Benefit from Stepping Up Ohio



Stepping Up Ohio

Stepping Up Publications, Tools & Resources Stepping Up Materials from Past Events Stepping Up Events and Opportunities Stepping Up Steering Committee How to Get Started Stepping Up Infographics Stepping Up Overview Stepping Up Toolkit


The Stepping Up initiative focuses on creating long-term movement to raise awareness of the factors contributing to the over-representation of people with mental illness in jails, and then using practices and strategies that work to drive those numbers down. Ohio Stepping Up will advance counties’ efforts through additional components: 1) the Call to Action, and 2) a National Summit. As part of the Call to Action, Ohio's county elected officials are encouraged to work with other leaders, people with mental illnesses and their advocates, and other stakeholders to pass a resolution in support of Stepping Up and commit to the six Stepping Up action steps. As of February 2017, 31 Ohio counties have passed resolutions in support of Stepping Up Ohio, and have become participants in the initiative.