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Jails function as de facto mental health facilities, and communities are looking for alternatives.

Jails house many people with mental illnesses who have not received the mental health treatment that they need, but instead have come in contact with law enforcement.Treatment Advocacy Center, Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Prevalence in Jails and Prisons (Arlington, VA: Treatment Advocacy Center, 2016), 1.

Nationally, an estimated 14.5 percent of men and 31 percent of women in jail suffer from mental illness.Treatment Advocacy Center, Serious Mental Illness (SMI) Prevalence in Jails and Prisons (Arlington, VA: Treatment Advocacy Center, 2016), 1.  In response, various national efforts have been launched to reduce the number of people with mental illness in local jails. For example, in 2015, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation partnered to launch the Stepping Up Initiative, which provides counties with technical assistance and tools to identify the drivers of incarceration for people with mental illness and develops coordinated response strategies.The Stepping Up Initiative, “Stepping Up Project Overview,” As of the end of 2017, 418 counties participating in Stepping Up have passed resolutions committing to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jail.The Stepping Up Initiative, “What You Can Do,”