A Fair and Humane Justice System Will Make Us Safer
5280 Magazine covered reforms I sponsored to Colorado’s Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity statute.
My work on criminal justice reform at the Capitol includes:
Improving Colorado’s County Jails
I collaborated with criminal justice reformers, prosecutors, public defenders, county commissioners, and, most importantly, county sheriffs to pass HB-1063 , which creates a Legislative Oversight Committee to recommend standards for Colorado’s county jails.
Disentangling Mental Illness from Incarceration
People with untreated, serious mental illness inevitably end up in the criminal justice system. In 2022, I devised and sponsored a package of bills that work to disentangle mental illness from jail and instead connect people with the treatment resources they need.
These bills will, with time, open up mental health care capacity, which will help others with serious mental illnesses access treatment before they become involved in the criminal justice system. The successful bills include:
- HB22-1061 to reform Colorado’s Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity policies, helping people who have recovered from a mental illness return to their communities faster and increasing treatment capacity for those who need an inpatient bed. Read more
- HB22-1386 to address Colorado’s daunting competency restoration backlog, which can keep mentally ill people who have not been convicted of any crime in jail for many months, even years, will allow those charged with low level offenses to be released back to their communities for competency services. The bill invests some $30 million to make progress on this obstinate backlog.
- SB22-010 to create pretrial diversion programs for people with mental illness, identifying eligible individuals for community treatment programs.
- HB22-1256 to modernize Colorado’s involuntary civil commitment laws by strengthening and streamlining mental health holds to protect patients and providers. With more than 50,000 mental health holds annually in Colorado, the statutes regulating these processes needed to be meaningfully updated.
Progress in 2021
In 2021, I sponsored several key criminal justice reforms that were signed by the Governor::
- HB21-1064 Update Processes Juvenile Sex Offender Registry
- HB21-1211 Regulation of Restrictive Housing In Jail
- SB21-192 Housing Mentors in Youthful Offender Facility
I will continue to serve on the year-round committee Treatment of Persons with Mental Health Disorders in the Criminal Justice System, where we work on issues such as housing for people exiting the criminal justice system, juvenile issues, diversion opportunities, and criminal justice impacts on people with high acuity mental illness.