Douglas County agencies are hosting an event May 14 to recognize the community collaboration and work that has been accomplished to significantly reduce the number of people with serious mental illnesses in the Douglas County Correctional Facility. The event will be 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Cider Gallery, 810 Pennsylvania Street, and is being held in conjunction with Mental Health Awareness Month and Stepping Up Month of Action. The event is free and open to the public.
The event will include recognition from the National Association of Counties, American Psychiatric Association Foundation, and Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center followed by a panel discussion about community efforts and next steps. Panelists include: Charles Branson, Douglas County District Attorney; Sgt. Ryan Halsted, Lawrence Police Department; The Honorable Sally Pokorny, 7th Judicial District Judge; Nicole Rials, Director of Urgent Care Programs, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center; and Bob Tryanski, Director of Behavioral Health Projects for Douglas County.
Since joining the Stepping Up initiative in October 2015, Douglas County has reduced the number of people with serious mental illnesses who are booked into the Douglas County Correctional Facility by 56 percent. In 2014, 18 percent of those in the Correctional Facility were identified as having a serious mental illness, and in 2018, the percentage was 8 percent. The national average is 17 percent.
“Douglas County is demonstrating today why the Stepping Up initiative designated it as an ‘Innovator County’ last year. They’re not only innovating, they’re showing that innovation yields impressive, concrete results,” said Megan Quattlebaum, director of The Council of State Governments Justice Center. "Douglas’s story is one from which other counties can draw lessons and inspiration.”
To view, Douglas County's news release about the event.