Wayne County Commissioners are expressing their support for a national effort that aims to reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails.

The county commission last week voted unanimously to approve a resolution in support of the Stepping Up Initiative.

“Those in jail who are mentally ill need treatment that they might not be able to get while incarcerated,” said Commission vice-chairwoman Alisha Bell, D-Detroit, who introduced the resolution. “Getting these people the help they need is the humane thing to do. And, on top of that, it is very expensive for Wayne County to house them, especially since the county has had significant financial concerns.”

Commissioners also voted unanimously to join Bell in co-sponsoring the resolution.

In addition, several others urged officials to implore the county’s lobbyists to ask state and federal lawmakers to act on the issue.

The Stepping Up Initiative is being led by the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation. More information about the Stepping Up Initiative is at

An estimated 2 million people with serious mental illnesses are jailed each year.

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