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Mentally ill rarely get the help they need when incarcerated

Colorado state prisons and county jails are filled with those who have committed a crime but are also mentally ill. One official called their jail the largest mental health facility in the county, although it is not intended to be, and jailers and guards are unqualified to provide medical treatment. Often, prisoners miss medication doses, making the mental illness worse and they lash out at others and even take drastic steps like committing suicide.

The Denver Post recently did a report on this problem, stating that one-third of the inmates in a single jail reported that they had some type of mental health issue. The problem is that these inmates are convicted, spend time in jail, are released and never receive the treatment they need. This makes it more likely that they will commit another crime and end up back in the same cycle. Many inmates who should be in mental institutions actually end up in jail or prison, which is one of the worst places to treat mental illness.

In 2017, there were 10,700 individuals, both women and men, incarcerated throughout the state of Colorado who needed mental health treatment in jail. Over 300 suicides were attempted in Colorado jails and prisons and 34 were successful. Prisoners may even end up in jail because they exhibit uncontrolled symptoms from their mental illness and a law enforcement officer believes that the behavior is unsafe or irrational. Studies show that those who enter jail with mental illness are also likely to stay there longer.

It is important that inmates get the care they need, especially if they have a specific medical or mental health issue. Anyone who has been accused of committing a crime may benefit from consulting with a criminal defense attorney to increase the chances of a successful result.