Project

Expanding Stepping Up to Include Racial Equity Lens with the Council of State Governments Justice Center

Overview

CEPP has partnered with the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center to develop guidance as CSG’s Stepping Up initiative expands to include a focus on racial equity at the intersection of criminal justice and behavioral health.

Our Approach

The Stepping Up initiative was launched in 2015 as a partnership between CSG, the National Association of Counties, and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. The initiative uses a data-driven framework to effect comprehensive, cross-systems change that can address the prevalence of mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders in local justice systems. Since its launch, Stepping Up has provided 552 counties with resources and tools to help work toward that goal.

As Stepping Up expands to include a focus on racial equity, CEPP is developing resources that build local capacity and support long-term sustainability. CEPP recognizes that sites, organizations, and people interested in advancing racial equity require access to tools and specialized guidance.

CEPP is responsible for developing and implementing a process to survey initiative sites on strategies to advance racial equity at the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice system involvement and assist in managing a cohort of advisory sites to compile gathered information and form guidance. CEPP will also apply a racial equity lens to data collection and performance measure protocols to increase access to diversion and services for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) with Serious Mental Illness (SMI).

CEPP’s work also involves:

  • Making recommendations that apply a racial equity lens to the Stepping Up framework documents
  • Attending monthly strategic planning sessions
  • Compiling findings
  • Assisting with developing briefs, webinars, web posts, and short videos to promote the updated messaging and Stepping Up framework

The Impact

The disparities experienced at the intersection of behavioral health needs and criminal justice system involvement can devastate the lives of people impacted, their families, and their broader communities. A fair and effective behavioral health system treats everyone equally, regardless of race, ethnicity, wealth, or gender. As a result of CEPP’s involvement and expertise, Stepping Up will better serve the needs of BIPOC people with SMI in the initiative’s 552 counties and counting.