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Stepping Up Initiative addresses mental health and the criminal justice system

Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 6:13 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -The Stepping Up Initiative pushes counties across the country to intervene early in the lives of people suffering from a mental illness in order to keep them out of the criminal justice system.

Eau Claire County joined the initiative in 2015. It’s working with local organizations on providing the resources necessary to prevent people with mental illnesses becoming part of the criminal justice system.

Amanda Lonsdorf is with Lutheran Social Services. She says efforts like these are needed.

“The criminal justice system wasn’t set up originally to handle these needs, and now we’re having individuals in the criminal justice system that need services," Lonsdorf said. "We’re seeing that they’re coming to our criminal justice system because of their needs.”

For those with a mental health problem already in the system, Lonsdorf oversees a program called the Community Transition Center.

They work with people waiting for a court date to begin the process of addressing the problem that led to them becoming part of the system.

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