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Issue Briefs

Mental Health Medication in the Criminal Justice System (19-01)

Subjects
Crimes, Corrections, & Enforcement
Public Health
Published
01/04/2019

According to the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC), between 2012 to 2017, the number of inmates who had moderate to severe mental health needs increased by 7 percent.  Additionally, a steep increase in court-ordered competency evaluations and restorative treatments has caused a shortage of psychiatric hospital beds in the state, resulting in many offenders with mental health disorders remaining in jail while waiting for an evaluation or treatment.  The increase in mental health needs in the criminal justice system means prisons and jails must provide necessary treatment, such as medication, to those in their care.  This issue brief provides an overview of how mental health medication is administered in the criminal justice system and information on recent legislation focused on reducing the number of individuals being detained while waiting for treatment.

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