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The Solution

The Stepping Up initiative was launched in 2015 as a partnership between The Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. Since then, Stepping Up has provided counties with resources and tools to effect comprehensive, cross-systems change that can address the prevalence of mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders in local justice systems. Hundreds of counties have joined this national movement, zeroing in on jail-based metrics that reflect the impact of their community’s efforts.

Stepping Up seeks to bolster cross-systems collaboration and build out community-based services and supports to reduce incarceration and reincarceration, respond effectively to people in crisis, and ultimately prevent contact with the justice system in the first place. The Stepping Up planning and implementation framework is designed to meet counties where they are, giving them the flexibility to select the best strategies for their local context.