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, April 20, 2008

Aid The Mentally Ill Outside Of Jail

Treatment should also include substance abuse. Hopefully, this will be the subject of the task force. We could save millions every year by funding treatment facilities for people with a drug addiction instead of warehousing them in jails and prison across the state.

The Denver Post - One of every five inmates jailed in the seven- county Denver metro area has a serious mental illness, and housing them takes a $34.4 million annual bite out of the counties' tight budgets, according to a new report by a Metro Area County Commissioners' task force.

Seriously ill inmates spend 5 1/2 times longer in jail than average inmates and cost $8.28 more per day because they receive more services and may be housed in special units, the report found.

"If we could reduce the number of mentally ill people in jail by one-third, we could cut the jail population in half," said Jefferson County Commissioner Kathy Hartman, chairwoman of the metro group. Mentally ill inmates also revolve in and out of jail more frequently.

The report, "Taking Action for Change," said cuts in mental-health programs and few available psychiatric beds mean jail cells end up as the last resort for people with depression and schizophrenic and psychotic disorders.

Money could be saved by plugging service gaps with community programs, the report said, thereby diverting the mentally ill from the criminal justice system and providing a range of help upon release.

The problem is not new. Since 1991, the percentage of inmates with serious mental illness has increased 1 percentage point each year, according to the Colorado Department of Corrections.

The issue has been trying to find money to pay for state and county programs for the mentally ill.

But Hartman said spending money for community-based programs costs one-tenth as much as jail. And for counties such as Jefferson, which is facing a $150 million jail expansion, the savings could be significant.

In community programs, not only would people receive proper treatment, the report said, but jail bed space would be freed up, inmates would be less likely to return to the criminal justice system, and jail costs would be limited.

The Denver Post


Anonymous said...

my brother is in prision he went to prision 35yrs ago + spent 18 months then escaped to florida they found him not guilty for reason fo insanity he was in his 20s he was captured and is in jail not in the hospital and he is very sane while he was out he got married raised two sons ran 2 business successfully now they say they were wrong with the diganosis and he is bipolar he can be treated for that out of the prision but he comes up for parole in may and is a class a prisioner and this is his secound time to come up for parole ,his name is Gary McFall you did an article on him 2 years ago he is now 62 years old ,he needs surgery for a hernia and has been turned down, why do they keep people like that him in prision when we have worse criminals walking the streets his wife has had a stroke and he just wants to go home and take care of her.

Unknown said...

I you know how to locate Gary McFall his daugher Patrese who has never met him is looking for him or any other relations.

Please contact me at mikelorna AT shaw.ca

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