TOLEDO, OH – As part of Lucas County’s continuing focus to reform our criminal justice system, the Lucas County Commissioners formally joined the “Stepping Up” initiative today. The “Stepping Up” initiative is a nationwide effort led by the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments, and the American Psychiatric Foundation.
This is an important initiative that has national and local impacts. National statistics show that the prevalence rates of serious mental illnesses in jails are three to six times higher than for the general population; almost three quarters of adults with serious mental illnesses in jails have co-occurring substance use disorder, and adults with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and upon release are at a higher risk of recidivism than people without these disorders.
Similar trends can be found local, a recent report by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County (MHRSB) found that 57% of people released from the Lucas County Corrections Center have behavioral health needs and when names of individuals in custody were compared with those provided services by the MHRSB, 67% had been provided services at some point in their lives, 48% had been provided services within the last five years, and 17% had been provided services within the last six months.
Lucas County has shown leadership and commitment to reducing the number of people with mental illness in its jail. Since 2001, Lucas County has offered Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to local law enforcement to assist law enforcement officers to more effectively manage individuals in the community who are experiencing behavioral health crises due to mental illness and/or co-occurring substance use disorders. To date, over 500 professionals have been trained in CIT in our community.
In 2014, Lucas County convened a diverse group of stakeholders to participate in a sequential intercept mapping exercise to identify areas in which the behavioral health and criminal justice systems interact and develop strategies to direct individuals to appropriate community resource.
In 2015, Lucas County created a full time position in the jail to facilitate access to health insurance reducing barriers to treatment for individuals re-entering the community. In 2016, Lucas County implement a process to provide behavioral health screening for individuals booked into the jail to ensure they are both provided appropriate resources while in custody and appropriate linkage upon release.
The Lucas County Commissioners believe that the “Stepping Up” initiative aligns with the long term goals of reforming our criminal justice system in a meaningful and lasting way. The Board looks forward to sharing lessons learned from its accomplishments over the last number of years, while also embracing best practices from around the country.