Equitas Foundation Announces Colorado Summit on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice


In collaboration with its partners, Equitas Foundation announces the Colorado Summit on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice. At this event, 225 experts and advocates from all over the state will convene to identify best practices for managing behavioral health, reducing incarceration, and promoting public safety and prosperity.

July 8, 2016 – Equitas Foundation and community health reform partners will convene experts and advocates from all over the state to identify best practices for managing behavioral health, reducing incarceration, and promoting public safety and prosperity. Course Corrections: Colorado Summit on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice, will be held in Denver at the History Colorado Center on August 31 and September 1. This inaugural event is part of a national series of Course Corrections events that Equitas is planning in cities across the country.

In Colorado, as in many communities throughout the nation, the largest mental health provider is a jail (specifically, the Denver County Jail). Currently, the burden for managing mental and behavioral health is by default on law enforcement, the criminal justice system, and our jails and prisons. Mental illness and poor behavioral health in the United States are often criminalized, rather than identified early on and treated, and are often exacerbated by adverse childhood experiences, traumatic brain injury, and toxic social environments. The consequences of this mismanagement of mental and behavioral health and poorly coordinated efforts to address population health problems at their roots include poor health outcomes, an over-burdened justice system, reduced capacity to protect public safety, and redundant public spending.

Course Corrections: The Colorado Summit on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice will provide a timely opportunity for multi-disciplinary and cross-sector partners from around the state to collaborate to address data needs and communications challenges, align and focus policy and practice reform efforts, set bold targets, and prioritize necessary Course Corrections. “We are a wealthy nation, and rich in human intelligence,” said Vincent Atchity, Equitas Foundation Executive Director. “We don’t need to settle for another decade of mass incarceration, disparity, and inefficient resource and population health management. Figuring out how to disentangle behavioral health from the criminal justice system is a responsibility shared by all partners, in all sectors,” he added.

The August 31 event in Denver will build on the ongoing work of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) and its subcommittees, of the state legislature’s Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System (MICJS) Task Force, and of the newly created Mental Health Hold Task Force within the Colorado Department of Human Services that resulted from Governor Hickenlooper’s recent veto of Senate Bill 16-169. “The committed participation of the membership of all these committees and task forces,” according to Doug Wilson, the Colorado State Public Defender and co-chair of the CCJJ, “will greatly contribute to the success of the Course Corrections event.”

Judge Steven Leifman, Associate Administrative Judge of the Miami- Dade County Court’s Criminal Division, will be the keynote speaker at the event. Judge Leifman, who chairs the Florida Supreme Court’s Task Force on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues in the Court and the Mental Health Committee for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, is one of the nation’s leaders in behavioral health and criminal justice reform.

Sponsors and participants in the Denver Course Corrections event include: Arapahoe County, Beacon Health Options, Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, City of Denver Office of Behavioral Health Strategies, Colorado Access, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Department of Human Services, Colorado Health Foundation, Colorado Health Institute, CORHIO, Denver Health, Governor’s Office of Community Partnerships, Health District of Northern Larimer County, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, Latino Coalition for Community Leadership, Mental Health Center of Denver, Mind Springs Health, National Behavioral Health Innovation Center, Southeast Behavioral Health,  University of Colorado Forensic Psychiatry Training Program,  University of Denver Graduate School of Professional Psychology, and many others.

Registration is now open for the August 31 event. Visit the event page to sign up.


About Equitas Foundation

Equitas Foundation believes that greater public awareness and cross-sector discussion at local and national levels are vital to making continuous improvement in our culture and systems of health and justice, and to putting an end to mass incarceration and the criminalization of vulnerability. By supporting collaborative efforts to devise and implement sensible programming and policy, and by convening influential allies locally and nationally, Equitas focuses collective problem-solving energy on managing mental and behavioral health challenges, and other issues stemming from hidden disabilities and disadvantages, in order to bring about a healthier, equitable, and sustainably prosperous nation. For more information, visit www.equitasusa.org.

Comments 2

  1. Arapahoe County is proud to be a sponsor of this important summit, indeed, all Counties and municipalities should get on board with the national movement to de-criminalize mental and behavioral health because we know that treatment is more effective than punishment. Treatment saves lives as well as saves money. Thanks to Equitas and their vision to convene this summit.

    1. Commissioner Jackson, thank you very much for your kind words! We are so grateful for your partnership and participation.

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