May 2, 2022

JOINT RELEASE: SIGNED! GOVERNOR SIGNS BIPARTISAN BILL TO HELP COLORADANS WITH BEHAVIORAL HEALTH NEEDS GET TREATMENT, NOT PUNISHMENT

DENVER, CO – Governor Jared Polis signed bipartisan legislation into law today that would expand a pretrial diversion program to help more Coloradans with behavioral health conditions get the treatment they need. The bill is sponsored by Senators Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, and Cleave Simpson, R-Alamosa, as well as Representatives Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, and Judy Amabile, D-Boulder.


SB22-010 will empower District Attorneys to divert eligible individuals away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate community treatment programs, reducing recidivism and preventing further criminal behavior.

“A jail cell is no place for someone with a mental health condition or substance use disorder. Diverting folks away from the criminal justice system and into community programs will ensure individuals in crisis are met with treatment, not punishment,” said Lee. “Expanding our existing pretrial diversion program to include individuals with behavioral health disorders means we’ll soon be able to extend critical aid to even more folks in need.

“Coloradans with serious mental health conditions or substance use disorders need treatment, not jail time,” said Benavidez. “I am thankful Governor Polis signed our bill into law that will help break the recidivism cycle so Coloradans can receive care instead of waiting behind bars. We need to intervene early to address Colorado’s escalating behavioral health crisis and this bill expands our pretrial diversion program to connect Coloradans with the lifesaving care they need.”

“Coloradans can spend years in jail awaiting critical care, and during that time, their behavioral health deteriorates,” said Amabile. “This law expands our state’s pretrial diversion program so Coloradans with mental illness or substance use disorders can receive the lifesaving treatment they need. Community treatment programs are some of the best tools we have to improve behavioral health outcomes, and our law directs Coloradans toward treatment instead of jail.”