The Stepping Up Strategy Lab is an interactive library of programs, policies, and practices that jurisdictions across the country have implemented to help reduce the prevalence of people with mental illnesses in their jails. With these interventions in one place, Stepping Up planning teams can explore, identify, and pursue those that are most likely to address local drivers of the problem.

How does the Strategy Lab align with the Stepping Up framework?

The interventions in the Strategy Lab are meant to help jurisdictions that are engaged in the strategic planning process detailed in the Stepping Up framework, Reducing the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jail: Six Questions County Leaders Need to Ask. This framework is intended to guide counties in creating collaborative partnerships in their jurisdictions, systematically identifying people who have mental illnesses as they enter their jails, and using data to inform strategies and track progress over time against four key measures. These measures are: (1) reduce bookings into jail, (2) reduce length of stay, (3) increase connection to treatment, and (4) reduce recidivism.

How can the Strategy Lab be used?

The Strategy Lab can be used by a range of stakeholders beyond Stepping Up planning teams—including state and local government officials and personnel, policymakers, researchers, and others—to learn more about approaches that have been implemented across the country to advance Stepping Up goals.

Moreover, the Strategy Lab can be used specifically by Stepping Up planning teams as part of their data-informed planning process to help them identify and develop a tailored list of interventions that are most responsive to local needs based on the areas prioritized for improvement along the four key measures. In addition to being able to filter interventions by which of the four key measures it impacts, the list can be further filtered by category, such as at which point(s) in the criminal justice and behavioral health system the intervention occurs. Users can also sort interventions by the anticipated level of resources necessary for implementation—i.e., whether it is a new or expanded program, which may require additional funding and capacity, or a policy or practice that may not require additional resources but could be incorporated to enhance an existing approach.


  • The research base for some of the interventions included in the Strategy Lab is relatively limited, and in many instances these interventions are not supported by the rigorous level of research needed for designation as an evidenced-based practice. Therefore, it is not proven that these interventions will impact outcomes along the indicated measure(s). The intention of the Strategy Lab is to serve as an exploratory tool that Stepping Up teams can use to research both proven and promising approaches which may or may not be evidence-based but have been effective for numerous jurisdictions across the country. Those seeking to implement an intervention in the Strategy Lab should first determine whether and how it fits the context of their own community and the extent to which it is likely to address local needs and drivers of the problem.
  • Though the list of interventions is not meant to be exhaustive, the Stepping Up partners intend to update and add to the database every six months to reflect progress and changes in the field; this also ensures the database incorporates interventions and resources as they are recognized.
  • While there are numerous jurisdictions that could have been highlighted per intervention, the Stepping Up partners have chosen to highlight only up to three examples each. As such, the local examples that accompany each intervention are not representative of every jurisdiction that has successfully implemented that intervention or similar strategies.

If you do not see an intervention in the database that has been implemented in your county and you believe it should be included, please let us know by clicking the Submit a Suggestion tab and completing the suggestion form.