Thurston County Joins the Stepping Up Initiative

The county will begin work on the Stepping Up Initiative in January 2023.


Submitted by Thurston County

On December 13, 2022, The Thurston County Board of County Commissioners signed a resolution to join the Stepping Up Initiative. This resolution formalizes the county’s commitment to reducing the number of people in the Thurston County Correctional Facilty with a mental illness and furthers the county’s commitment to creating a healthy and safe community.

By joining the initiative, Thurston County joins 13 other Washington counties and 563 counties nationwide in their effort to reduce the prevalence of serious mental illness in the justice system. The Stepping Up Initiative was founded by the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation in an effort to encourage counties and their partners to reduce the number of people with mental illness in their jails.

Joining the Stepping Up Initiative gives Thurston County the opportunity to connect with other counties and provides resources to help justice partners:

  • Collect and review baseline information to inform decision making,
  • Examine treatment and service capacity,
  • Identify policy and funding barriers,
  • Develop a plan with measurable outcomes to help the county address Stepping Up’s four key measures:
    • Jail Bookings
    • Jail Length of Stay
    • Connections to Treatment
    • Recidivism
  • Implement evidence-based approaches to advance the county plan, and
  • Create a process to track progress using data and information systems.

“Across the country, individuals in jail are three to six times more likely to have a serious mental illness, and often these individuals have co-occurring substance use disorders,” said Leah Landon, Criminal Justice Regional Program Manager. “In addition to longer stays in jail, those who are mentally ill tend to have higher rates of recidivism. Without targeted treatment and services these individuals often cycle through the criminal justice system. By joining the Stepping Up Initiative we are taking another step towards breaking that cycle.”

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