• December 9th, 2021
  • Thursday, 08:35:06 AM

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Justice and Behavioral Health Bills Taking Effect

Three new laws sponsored by Colorado Rep. Joe Salazar to reform the state’s behavioral health and criminal justice systems take effect on August 9th.

SB17-207 enacts key reforms to our behavioral health system, ending the use of jails to hold people experiencing mental health emergencies and providing increased funding for crisis response and treatment services, particularly in rural areas of the state.

“This bill implements critical reforms, protecting the health and the rights of Coloradans experiencing mental health crises, as well as expanding access to treatment,” said Rep. Salazar, D-Thornton.

HB17-1308 gives the parole board discretion to impose various conditions on parolees when appropriate, rather than mandatorily. The savings from these reforms will be used to implement an innovative “justice reinvestment” program through HB17-1326, which will help communities tackle the root causes of crime.

“The parole board should be able to determine what conditions are needed to help parolees get back on track,” Rep. Salazar said. “By removing these one-size-fits-all requirements, we can make our criminal justice system more effective at rehabilitating people who commit crimes.”
These two bills, which were also sponsored by Rep. Lang Sias, R-Arvada, and Sens. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, and John Cooke, R-Greeley, came out of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, of which all four legislators are members.

The final bill, HB17-1138, will require the Department of Public Safety to submit annual reports to the legislature regarding bias-motivated crimes that occur in Colorado, so that legislators can better address – and try to prevent – these offenses. This bill was also sponsored by Sen. Angela Williams, D-Denver.

“This information is critical to helping us understand where and why these crimes are occurring, so that we can help keep Coloradans safe and prevent bias and discrimination in our communities,” Rep. Salazar said.