Affiliation with The Stepping Up Initiative will Strengthen Existing Efforts
Fact: An estimated 2M people with a mental illness are imprisoned each year, nationally.
Gainesville, Fla. – On February 5, 2019, the Levy County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) adopted a resolution, which was established by the national Stepping Up Initiative, in order to support efforts by Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., and other community partners, in making optimal use of a Criminal Justice, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Reinvestment Grant (CJMHSAG), along with funding from the Department of Children and Families (DCF), all of which is aimed at reducing the number of inmates with mental illnesses and/or substance use disorders.
467 counties have adopted the resolution nationwide, 15 of which are in Florida.
As a Stepping Up participant, Levy County has access to a Resources Toolkit, offering guidelines for implementing proven initiatives. This includes numerous case studies from other counties involved in the program. In order to further enhance county engagement and discussions, based upon regionally distinct challenges and opportunities, three sub-networks of the Stepping Up network have been developed: the Rural Counties Network (of which Levy County is a member), the Mid-Size Counties Network and the Large/Urban Counties Network.
The Stepping Up partners will facilitate an email listserv and host quarterly phone calls for the county leaders within each network, with the hope of creating a rich peer-learning environment. Levy County’s Grant Coordinator, Rick Wagner, believes the passing of the Stepping Up resolution will go a long way toward accelerating funding for efforts to reduce Levy’s current population of inmates with mental and/or substance use disorders, which is close to 80%, while simultaneously diverting future prisoners toward more appropriate incarceration and treatment options.