Ballot with a yes vote

Proposition 1

A plan for prevention, intervention and recovery

What is Proposition 1?

Douglas County has proposed a half-cent sales tax to develop a mental and behavioral health campus, a network of support programs and services throughout the community, and reconfigure our current jail for the safety and humane treatment of the inmates and staff. If you are registered to vote in Douglas County, you should have received a mail-in ballot that must be returned by noon on May 15. 

What will be funded by the proposed half cent sales tax increase?


  • Expanded access to comprehensive mental health services
  • Implement nationally recognized Zero Suicide initiative
  • Initiate an opioid crisis summit in Douglas County
  • Comprehensive preventions planning
  • Expand WRAP, the in-school therapist program, to all districts in Douglas County
  • Free access to MyStrength app for all Douglas County residents


  • 23 adult crisis beds
  • Two youth crisis beds
  • Short-term respite care staffed by behavioral health specialists
  • 24/7 integrated crisis line
  • Expanded mobile response
  • Medication-assisted detox and sobering services
  • Expanded reentry and work release programs that offer alternatives to incarceration and reduce recidivism


  • Supportive housing adjacent to the crisis center and Bert Nash and at DCCCA First Step
  • Increased space for mental health services and a more therapeutic environment
  • Reconfiguration of jail to separate violent and non-violent inmates
  • Safer and more appropriate housing for women
  • Increased access to psychiatric services

The Proposed Mental Health Campus

A study of the issues and needs of Douglas County has been in the works since 2014. Included in this study were the needs of the Douglas County Correctional Facility as well as ways in “which the population can be reduced through alternatives to incarceration.” A whole host of programs and initiatives came out of this study and are interconnected by service providers, comprehensive plans and funding sources.

The Health Leadership Coalition, a group of community leaders and experts from Douglas County organizations, have been working together to implement this robust plan for an expanded behavioral health care system for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. Working in collaboration with the County, they have created a plan that moves the local system from one of crisis and incarceration to one of intervention, prevention and recovery. The result is a proposed mental health campus and network to support programs and services.

Bert Nash Community Mental health Center
Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department
Heartland Community Health Center
Heartland Regional Alcohol & Drug Assessment Center
Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority
Lawrence Memorial Hospital
douglas County Suicide Prevention Coalition

The Mental Health campus will mean that individuals before, during and after crisis will have access to the treatment and support they need to live stably in our community. Mental and behavioral health services will be integrated and expanded into a researched, comprehensive plan to serve people where they are, whenever they are in need.

1 in 5 children or teens has some type of mental health problem in any given year
Thousands of our most vulnerable citizens are left with severely reduced access to needed mental and behavioral health treatment and services because of the decision not to expand Medicaid in Kansas
Over 70% of patients in a primary care exam room present with a psychosocial root cause for their medical concerns
  • 23-bed crisis stabilization center
  • Medication assisted detox and sobering services
  • Short-term respite care staffed by behavioral health specialists
  • Three tiers of supportive housing
Map of proposed location of crisis and recovery campus

The jail reconfiguration and expansion

The Douglas County Correctional Facility was built in 1994 and funded by a similar ballot initiative that also paid for the current Community Health Facility where Bert Nash is located. The jail was estimated to be over capacity in 2010 when it was designed in the 1990s.

Douglas County’s once low recidivism — or relapse/regression — rate is on the rise, in part due to the lack of reentry programs for inmates who have been outsourced to other jails because of overcrowding. Had those inmates been incarcerated in Douglas County, they would have had access to programs and services that have been shown to slow the revolving door and help lead individuals to make better life choices in the future.

The jail expansion project will provide more space for these crucial reentry programs.

Who is in our jail? Statistical data from February 2018
Over $1 million annually is being paid by Douglas county residents to out-source inmates to other jails
Average 50-70 inmates beyond capacity

Why is the jail overcrowded?

Over the past four years, Douglas County has experienced a 101% increase in serious felony crimes against persons. And while our county’s incarceration rate has not significantly changed in recent years, more individuals are in jail right now — due in part to the growth of our community’s population. Our geographical location also plays a significant role; situated between Kansas City and Topeka, we experience crime by individuals from these two larger metro areas. Roughly 30% of the inmates in custody at Douglas County Correctional Facility are not from Douglas County, but their crimes were committed here.

200+ offenders were safely diverted from incarceration in 2017 by existing programs
101% increase in felony crimes in the past 4 years
1.8 out of 1000 is Douglas County's average incarceration rate in 2018
3.1 out of 1000 is 2018 Kansas incarceration rate. 3.3 out of 100 is the national average.

What can we do to keep more people OUT of jail?

To help alleviate overcrowding — and because Douglas County recognizes incarceration is neither necessary nor the best course of action for every offender — the county has successfully implemented a number of alternatives to jail such as pretrial release, behavioral health court, diversions, and house arrest. These not only help mitigate jail overcrowding, they better serve the individuals.

There’s no question, however, that alternatives to incarceration are not viable for every offender. A snapshot of our jail taken on February 2, 2018, shows a total of 246 inmates in custody for offenses ranging from criminal damage and multiple felony DUI to sexual exploitation of a child and murder.

There’s a common misconception out there that the jail is filled with people arrested for smoking marijuana. That’s just not the case.
Undersheriff Gary Bunting (via LJWord)

Through research and collaboration on serving the current and future mental health needs of our community, the Douglas County partners of the Health Leadership Coalition have designed these initiatives that align with the Bert Nash Center’s core values of Compassion, Integrity, and Equity on a foundation of Hope. For us at the Bert Nash Center, this is a continuation of the legacy of Dr. Bert Nash who was a lifelong advocate of the community’s role in supporting the mental health of all its citizens.

Additional Resources