A nationwide initiative to reduce the number of mentally ill people in county jails across the country has now been officially joined by Scotts Bluff County.
County Commissioners Monday night gave unanimous approval to a resolution for county staff to take part in the Stepping Up Initiative, which was originally launched in the southeastern U.S.
Region 1 Behavioral Health Authority Administrator Holly Brandt explained to the board Monday evening achieving that goal will require law enforcement identification of those needing assistance, and what type of help they may need. “Trying to get them set up with appointments, if they need medication and management appointments. If they need an appointment with a counselor or a psychological evaluation, having those set up prior to them being discharged from jail,” said Brandt. “What we find is a lot of people, if they don’t have services connected when they’re released, they may not have a place to live, they may be ‘couch-surfing’ and going right back to what they were doing prior to being put in jail.”
Brandt says the Sheriff’s Office is already conducting informational surveys with detainees to help determine the level of need in the area… part of a two-year grant that was extended into a third year.
She says requirements for services to be provided through a future grant would include that those receiving them must qualify under the Region 1 guidelines, and they cannot be in jail at the time those services are provided.
To date, 508 counties across the country have passed resolutions to take part in the Stepping Up Initiative, including 10 in eastern Nebraska.
Scotts Bluff County is the first in the Panhandle to join the effort. Wyoming has not had a single county sign up under the initiative.
In other action by the board, the panel have unanimous approval to three- year contracts for the existing Scotts Bluff County Keno satellite operations in the Village of Morrill and City of Scottsbluff.