Equitas ED quoted in Special Report: Colorado’s jails and prisons house many of the state’s mentally ill

Written by Rachel Riley at the Colorado Springs Gazette.

“They miss medication doses, sinking further into psychosis as their symptoms take hold.

They try to kill themselves and sometimes succeed.

They lash out at staff and fellow inmates in the midst of mental breakdowns, at constant risk of lengthening their sentences.

A past detention bureau chief in Colorado Springs estimated in 2017 that 60% to 75% of the inmates in the overcrowded facility had some sort of mental health issue.

People with mental health issues might not receive any attention for their conditions when they’re behind bars, said Vincent Atchity, executive director of the Denver-area nonprofit The Equitas Project, devoted to ‘disentangling mental health and criminal justice.’

And when the mentally ill are released from correctional facilities, they’re not connected with the resources they need to become more stable, Atchity said.

Instead, they often resort to getting high or drunk. The countdown to their next arrest begins.

‘They end up cycling in and out of jail repeatedly, at great cost to the community, without any fruitful outcome, because the health care is not there,’ Atchity said.”

 

Originally published here (premium content).

Written by Rachel Riley at the Colorado Springs Gazette.

 

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