Lincoln County’s efforts to address people with mental illness and substance abuse problems in the criminal justice system through the Stepping Up Initiative have received a major boost with the award of a three-year, $745,871 federal grant.
The funds come from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration program and will provide direct assistance to clients, supportive services including housing and treatment, and additional training for law enforcement.
Sheriff Curtis Landers said, “This funding will provide necessary services to keep people with a mental health disorder out of jail. It will provide them with the tools and resources to build a foundation to be successful. And most importantly, it will reduce crime in our community.”
County Commissioner Claire Hall, who first advocated for Lincoln County to join Stepping Up, said, “This is a remarkable achievement, but we’re just getting started. This award underscores the fact that we’ve built a new public-private partnership and culture of collaboration that will improve public safety, save tax dollars, and save lives.”
The grant funds will be available beginning in January 2019. A pretrial justice program to hire two specialists, presented by Sheriff Landers and approved by the Board of Commissioners and budget committee for the 2018-19 fiscal year, will meet the requirements for a local match.
The award was announced Wednesday afternoon (October 3) at a gathering to mark the two-year anniversary of Lincoln County joining the national Stepping Up effort, which was launched in 2015 by three national organizations. Currently, almost 400 counties in the United States have joined Stepping Up. The event also provided an opportunity for community partners to provide input on next steps.
The new grant will support a Pretrial Justice Counselor position in the Sheriff’s Office to coordinate mental health and co-occurring disorder services. CHANCE will provide peer support services and help coordinate pretrial services and ReConnections will provide pretrial drug testing as directed by court orders.
Indigent program participants will have access to emergency vouchers, transportation assistance and communication assistance.
Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training will be offered to all first responders county-wide, and Trauma Informed Care training for pretrial justice staff and stakeholders will take place as a result of this grant award.
Sheriff Landers stated, “This is a very comprehensive grant involving programming, counselling, and compliance. It is structured to address the barriers people struggle with and allow them to live productive lives without committing crime.“