Stepping Up Initiative

Ohio Stepping Up Initiative to Reduce Jail Incarceration

The Stepping Up Initiative 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 Stepping Up initiative brings together 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.

Ohio is adding to the efforts by also including 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 January 2019, 47 Ohio counties have passed resolutions in support of Stepping Up Ohio, and have become participants in the initiative.

Through its Community Innovations grants, OhioMHAS takes 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.

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