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.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Lawsuit Demands Care For Mentally Ill Veterans

It's becoming less of a secret, for years now the Department of Corrections has mishandled those people who are considered mentally ill. They are expected to live up to the same standards as everyone else when it comes to be competent enough to handle the rigors of being on parole or in community corrections. The lawsuit was filed by civil rights attorney Anne Sulton as a class action suit that alleges cruel and unusual punishment and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The suit seeks class-action status on behalf of all incarcerated, honorably discharged veterans receiving Veterans Affairs care for their service-connected disabilities, whose incarceration is related to the failure of prisons and jails to provide them with mental health care. The filing estimates that 100-400 inmates fall into the class.

The class would be far larger if not limited to these military veterans. Colorado estimates that 19 percent of its 23,395 inmates are mentally ill.

The suit says 45 percent of Colorado offenders received mental health services in 2000 but that dropped to 20 percent by 2004, after a $1 million funding cut.

Sulton said she limited the case to these veterans because parole and community corrections officials cannot plead limited resources in failing to arrange mental health treatment for them.

"All you have to do is make a call and get the VA to take care of them. It takes 10 seconds," said Sulton, the former Denver attorney for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She is now based in Olympia, Wash.

Read Anne Imse's article here

No comments: