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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Governers pitches mental health changes

The Denver Post
Colorado would streamline involuntary mental health commitments and speed that information to gun-sale registries as part of a comprehensive, $18.5 million psychiatric overhaul aimed at preventing future violence and improving care in a package of proposals announced by Gov. John Hickenlooper Tuesday.
Mental health advocates in the state hailed what they say is a desperately-needed bolstering of emergency psychiatric services and laws. They said civil commitments could be simplified while still protecting patient rights, and that the spending package to increase emergency beds and evaluations is the right approach.
At the capitol, Hickenlooper said the proposals, taken together, should "reduce the probability of bad things happening to good people."
The governor's proposals include:
• Rewriting three laws on mental health commitments into a new, comprehensive set of rules clarifying the procedures and rights of those involved.
• Allowing court proceedings on mental health holds to be entered immediately into Colorado Bureau of Investigation firearm registries, so that required background checks on gun buyers would have real-time information.
• Spend $10.3 million on a statewide mental health crisis hotline, and five always-open walk-in centers for stabilizing urgent mental health cases.
• Develop 20 new beds for prisoners with psychiatric needs in the Denver area, with $2 million in state funds.
• Spend $4.8 million next year on transitional mental health care, including two 15-bed residential homes for those leaving inpatient facilities to rejoin the community. This portion would also add 107 housing vouchers to help the seriously mentally ill.
• De-escalation rooms at state mental health hospitals, and a new consolidation of mental health and substance abuse data, with $1.4 million in state spending.
The expansion of services should be applauded, said Jana Burke, director of the Rocky Mountain ADA Center, which advocates for patient rights and is a clearinghouse for the Americans with Disabilities Act. Clarifying the commitment law will help define patient rights, Burke added.
Long before the Aurora theater shooting and the tragedy unfolding in Connecticut, state mental health leaders had called for higher spending and more coordinated care for the seriously ill.
A 2011 report by a group of key foundations said 90,000 Colorado children and adolescents have a "serious emotional disturbance." Another 170,000 adults have a severe mental illness, according to the report "Advancing Colorado's Mental Care."
The report highlighted Colorado's outsized suicide rate, and a large number of military veterans returning from challenging duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also noted that specialized psychiatric services are increasingly concentrated in major cities like Denver and Colorado Springs, leaving rural areas badly underserved in mental health.

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