At the May 20th Board meeting, I sponsored and passed the “Stepping Up Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails”, supported by President Preckwinkle and Sherriff Dart.
Cook County takes pride in its responsibility to protect and enhance the health, welfare and safety of its residents in efficient and cost-effective ways; and has successfully reduced its total jail population by 20% since 2013; and is implementing creative approaches to best meet these goals.
Counties nationwide routinely provide treatment services to the estimated 2 million people with serious mental illnesses booked into jail each year. Without appropriate treatment and services, people with mental illnesses continue to cycle through the criminal justice system, often resulting in tragic outcomes for these individuals and their families. Adults with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and upon release are at a higher risk of recidivism.
The initiative is a partnership with the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation, which will examine treatment and service capabilities in order to determine programs available to people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders, to safely reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.
To learn more about the initiative, visit https://stepuptogether.org/