My Fellow Elected County Officials,
More than 300 counties — 10 percent of the nation’s counties — have passed resolutions to join Stepping Up, a national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails. Counties are at the forefront of this issue: We run 91 percent of local jails and invest $176 billion in justice, health and human services every year.
NACo, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation started the initiative to elevate this issue to the national level and help counties change the way we treat people with mental illnesses who come into contact with the justice system.
My home of Leon County, Fla., passed a Stepping Up resolution committing to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in our jail and to share lessons learned with other counties within our state and nationwide. I encourage your county to do the same.
More than 2 million people with serious mental illnesses are booked into county jails each year, and most also have substance use disorders. The unnecessary incarceration of people with mental illnesses impacts jail populations, county budgets and public safety.
Most importantly, it impacts our families, friends, neighbors and constituents. The time to act is now.
Join me in passing a resolution to be part of the Stepping Up initiative today. Find out more at: www.StepUpTogether.org.
Commissioner, Leon County, Fla.