Lawmakers Debate Overhaul In Mental Crisis Treatment

This article has been re-shared from it’s original source, CBS4


DENVER (CBS4)– State lawmakers are debating a massive overhaul in how people going through a mental crisis are treated in Colorado. The bill has bipartisan support.

Gov. John Hickenlooper is behind a $9 million plan that would end the practice of putting people in crisis, in jail. The funding would come from marijuana sales tax.

Colorado is only one of six states that still jails people for no other reason than the fact that they suffer from a mental illness.

The lawmakers sponsoring a bill to change that say it’s necessary because mental illness is not a crime.

It’s been 60 years since mental health institutions closed their doors but jail cells have replaced the facilities in many situations.

“I was terrified. I was like, ‘Why? Why are you doing this to me? I’ve done nothing wrong,’” said Jennifer Hill.

Hill was held against her will for no other reason than a mental illness.

“When people have a stroke, we get them to a medical facility. When they have a head injury, we get them to a medical facility and we treat them with care and compassion. So it’s not unfathomable to do this with people who have mental health conditions,” said Hill.

Hickenlooper agrees, “For us not to do anything in a way it’s immoral but it’s also just bad government.”