Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Drug Aid Program Benefits Mentally Ill Patients

This is incredibly important. Now, if we can stop people from going to prison in the first place with early diagnosis and treatment we may be able to save both people and dollars.
The Denver Post

A 2-year-old program designed to provide medication and monitoring to inmates with mental illnesses has shown the potential to dramatically reduce recidivism among those who participate, according to a new study.

The program provides free medicine to two different kinds of inmates: those who are being released from prison to community halfway houses and parolees who break rules and are sent to community corrections facilities.

In 2006, the year before the medication program began, 92 mentally ill inmates, or 56 percent of the offenders sent to community corrections facilities, violated rules or committed new crimes and were returned to prison.

In the first two years of the medication program, only 2 mentally ill inmates, or 3 percent of the 61 prisoners getting psychotropic medications at community corrections facilities, were sent back to prison.

The number of mentally ill offenders who were released from prison to community corrections halfway houses, only to end up back in prison, also dropped, from 47 percent in 2006 to 37 percent in 2007 and 2008, recently released research shows.

"It's hard to implement something that so quickly has a dramatic impact," said Maureen O'Keese, the Department of Corrections director of research. "I was absolutely shocked."

The Colorado legislature in 2006 approved the $1.3 million pilot program designed to increase success rates of inmates moving into the community. Budget cuts have reduced that to $171,000.

Since its inception, 208 DOC inmates have participated in the program.

The program will be replicated for hundreds of mentally ill parolees who soon will be released early from prison under a state budget-cutting measure.


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