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Shawnee County joins nationwide call to action to reduce number of people with mental illnesses in jails



TOPEKA, Kan. – Shawnee County has joined Stepping Up, a nationwide initiative to reduce the prevalence of mental illness in the criminal justice system.

The Stepping Up Initiative was launched in 2015 by The Council of State Governments Justice Center, The National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation to mobilize leaders at the local, state and national level to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in American jails and ultimately connect people with mental health treatment.

More than 520 counties in 43 states have joined Stepping Up to date.

Valeo Behavioral Health Care CEO Bill Persinger Jr. and Shawnee County Corrections Director Brian Cole worked together with community partners in the fall to create the Intersection Coalition, a collaborative group focused on the intersection of public behavioral health and the criminal justice system.