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.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Thornton: A court for mental illness - The Denver Post

Thornton: A court for mental illness - The Denver Post

History will be made in Colorado's 18th Judicial District this week when Colorado's first districtwide adult Mental Health Court will convene to hear the case of "Robert," age 37.

Robert has bipolar disorder. He frequently goes off his medication, hasn't followed through with treatment plans, has attempted suicide, and has been hospitalized three times. He has several prior convictions for shoplifting, violating restraining orders and resisting arrest. Now he says he wants to figure out a better way to live, and has volunteered for the Mental Health Court.

The court is a specialized treatment court similar to others used in Colorado for drug users and teen offenders. It's designed to divert nonviolent felony offenders who have a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or major depression, as well as those with a combination of mental illness and substance abuse. It is not open to those with violent behavior or to sex offenders.

Most of the people who'll come before the court have been repeatedly in and out of jail. They've been charged with minor offenses that result from their mental illness, things like being a public nuisance, drinking in public, and shoplifting. They're charged with a felony because of the cost of items they've stolen or damaged. Usually they have been off their medications because they can't afford them, and live in and out of shelters.

Defendants who volunteer for the court are assessed for eligibility by a team that includes the Mental Health Court magistrate, the coordinator of the court, a treatment professional, and representatives of the district attorney's and public defender's offices.

Each participant will have an intensive treatment plan, including case management and medications, and will be closely monitored by probation officers and mental health professionals. Treatment addresses the mental illness, recurring substance abuse and criminal thinking. There will be incentives for compliance, and sanctions for non-compliance that may include re-sentencing.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The term BiPolar is sure misused in Colorado. Heck any person that has spent 4 or 5 years in DOC custody will come out of there acting like a bi polar person. Check it out. Wouldnt you think that alone would be a good reason to change the system to be truly correctional. djw

Barney said...

djw, yes, the term/diagnosis "bipolar" is overused. However, a very large percentage of the people in our jails and prisons are there due to mental illness issues more than criminal tendencies. Locking them up does nothing to help them do better (just the same as the case with drug addicted inmates). We need more mental health and rehabilitation facilities and fewer penal facilities.

ClinkShrink said...

Or maybe we should work to make our penal facilities better? What a novel thought!!