JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Johnson County has launched a new tool to review the effectiveness of offering mental health services to people who have been incarcerated.
The Johnson County Brief Jail Mental Health Screen (BJMHS) dashboard collects aggregate data from the Johnson County Mental Health Center and the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.
The dashboard shows the percentage of people booked into the county jail with a positive mental health screen. The data set compares the number of people booked into the jail showing signs of mental illness (those with a positive screen) compared to those not showing signs of mental illness (those with a negative screen).
The goal is to provide support to people within the jail system who experience mental illness.
If a person has a positive mental health screen, the county mental health center will work with law enforcement to review alternatives to incarceration. Alternative options are considered on a case-by-case basis, but may include things like diversion programs, specialty or problem-solving courts or mental health probation caseloads.
“It’s such a benefit to the community, because when people are brought in, they have immediate access to services as soon as they are booked and hopefully that means we are releasing them better, not bitter,” Sheriff Calvin Hayden said. “Mental health is at crisis levels right now, so the more access and information we can offer for any person is a huge benefit for the entire community.”
The dashboard also shows the average length of time a person showing signs of mental illness is incarcerated and the percentage of people with positive mental health screens that have been connected to care.
According to the dashboard, last year roughly 29% of people booked into the jail screened positive for mental health needs.
The goal is for Johnson County to reduce these number of bookings by about 5% each year until individuals with mental illness are no more likely to be booked into jail than the general population.
The new dashboard is part of the national Stepping Up Initiative, a program formed through a collaboration between the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, the National Association of Counties and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation.
“The CSG Justice Center is excited to see the ongoing great work in Johnson County, one of our original Stepping Up sites and one of our earliest named Innovator sites,” Ayesha Delaney-Brumsey with the CSG Justice Center said.
“This dashboard will allow the residents of Johnson County to track progress made in the reduction of people with serious mental illness in your justice system and efforts to improve responses to this population.”
Johnson County is one of seven original counties in the country selected as a Stepping Up Innovator County for expertise in helping people in the criminal justice system who experience mental illness.
“We have seen the value of the Stepping Up Initiative and are pleased to be one of the first counties in the country to share this important data with our community,” JCMHC Director Tim DeWeese said. “This information is critical to our continuing effort to reduce the incarceration rate of people with mental illness in our county.”
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