Wood County Ohio ‘steps up’ to keep people with mental illness out of jails. Retired Ohio Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton serves as State Project Director

Posted by the Sentinel-Tribune, 7 June 2019

Each year there are an estimated 2 million people with serious mental illnesses admitted to U.S. jails, with almost three-quarters having co-occurring substance use disorders.

The toll incarceration takes on these individuals and their families, as well as the costs assumed by taxpayers, is staggering. Jails have become de facto in-patient psychiatric facilities across the nation with little impact on public safety. Ohio is no exception, with as many as 30 percent or more of the individuals in jail having mental illnesses.

Wood County has joined over 45 other Ohio counties in Stepping Up, a national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.

The kick-off will be held at Sam B’s Restaurant, 163 S. Main St., on June 20 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

To RSVP or for more information, contact the Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board by calling 419-352-8475 or email wcadamhs@wcadamh.org no later than June 17.

The initiative was launched in May 2015 by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, with support from the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, to help people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders safely stay out of jails and on a path to recovery.

An initial meeting of all county leadership — commissioners, judges, law enforcement, treatment community and hospitals — will feature the assistance and resources Stepping Up can offer and how to reverse this cycle of jails being the de facto hospital for those better cared for and treated in the community.

The Ohio effort is privately funded by Peg’s Foundation. To make this effort a success, Peg’s Foundation has retained retired Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton to serve as project director and Melissa Knopp, esquire, to serve as project manager to lead the Ohio efforts.

Newspaper article: http://bit.ly/2R2X1Hi