The County of San Luis Obispo has been named an “Innovator County” by the Stepping Up Initiative.
The initiative is a nationwide effort to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.
To be named an “Innovator,” the county had to define what it means to be “seriously mentally ill,” screen every person booked into the jail for mental illness, and collect data on the population of people with mental illnesses in the jail.
The Board of Supervisors adopted the Stepping Up Initiative in August 2017, about eight months after inmate Andrew Holland died at the jail. The 36-year-old suffered from schizophrenia and had been strapped to a restraint chair for 46 hours before his death.
The county settled a lawsuit with Holland’s parents and vowed to change how it treats mentally ill inmates.
Since then, the county says it has taken multiple steps to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in its jail, including opening a Crisis Stabilization Unit, deploying two Behavioral Health Community Action Teams , building a Behavioral Health unit at the jail, and starting a Jail-Based Competency Treatment program.
This summer, the county is also looking to hire a Stepping Up Initiative project manager to serve for a two-year term.