400 people with mental illness are sitting in Colorado jails. Some state lawmakers want to divert them to treatment instead.

March 27, 2024

By: Jennifer Brown

About 30 people testified in favor of the bill, including Denver District Attorney Beth McCann and Maureen Cain, policy director for the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender.

Cain said the waitlist is “the most significant injustice” witnessed in courtrooms across the state, according to a survey of public defenders. “These poor people will keep coming back and we can’t wait any longer,” she said.

At the news conference, where supporters of the bill carried “Care Not Cuffs” signs, Mental Health Colorado CEO Vincent Atchity said the legislation would create “real meaningful change.” The current competency restoration system, he said, does not provide actual health care but a “tragically absurd exercise in civics indoctrination for the unwell.”

“Because of our failure as a state to create a system of care, we criminalize mental health conditions, clogging the judicial system with people who are too ill to be adjudicated,” he said.

Read the full article in The Colorado Sun