Pennsylvania has launched the first-in-nation Stepping Up Technical Assistance Center. The purpose of this Technical Assistance Center is to help counties in Pennsylvania reduce the number of people in jail with mental illness.
John Wetzel, PA Secretary of Corrections, believes that addressing the prevalence of mental illness in jails requires a “system-wide” approach. Stepping Up is the national initiative to reducing the number of people in jail with mental illnesses.
A study published titled, “Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates” identified the following:
- Nearly 25% of inmates who had a mental health problem had served 3 or more prior incarcerations. In contrast, 20% without mental illness had served multiple incarcerations.
- Female inmates had higher rates of mental health problems than male inmates. State prisons: 73% of females and 55% of males; Federal prisons: 61% of females and 44% of males; local jails: 75% of females and 63% of males.
- Only 1 in 3 State prisoners, 1 in 4 Federal prisoners and 1 in 6 jail inmates who had a mental illness problem had received treatment since admission.
Screening individuals to properly identify those with mental health problems and referring them for treatment improves outcomes and reduces incarceration rates. In addition to onsite provisions, many free mental health resources are available online and can be controlled by secureLearn.