Clark County has joined in the nationwide battle to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in local jails.
The Board of Clark County Commissioners approved a resolution on Oct. 10 joining the Ohio Stepping Up initiative, which is administered by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.
Clark County is the 44th Ohio County to pass a resolution in support of the statewide initiative. The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties will facilitate the program for the county along with criminal justice system members.
“The program is another tool in the toolbox in helping treat more people for both mental health and addiction issues, while also hopefully reducing the population at the Clark County Jail,” Clark County Commissioner Rick Lohnes said.
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 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.