In 2016, Cabarrus County committed to becoming a partner of the Stepping Up initiative. The initiative focuses on reducing the number of people with mental illness in jails. The concept of mental health overhaul is tremendous; however, acknowledging and responding to a problem that affects one of our own programs was a starting place.
According to the Stepping Up Initiative, two million people with serious mental illness are admitted to jails across the nation each year. Almost three-quarters of these adults also have drug and alcohol use problems. Once incarcerated, individuals with mental illness tend to stay longer in jail and upon release are at a higher risk of returning to incarceration than those without these illnesses.
In Cabarrus, we are studying how jurisdictions across the country evaluate mental illness among inmates. We’ll use the information to work toward our own plans for identifying mental illness and substance abuse among our jailed populations, providing proper treatment and developing manageable strategies to help them post incarceration. We hope that, for some, this will end the cycle of criminal activity and detention.
Here's a story from the Independent Tribune about the local initiative.