State Sen. Daniel Kagan's bill SB 17-207, "Strengthen Colorado's Behavioral Health Crisis System," makes perfect sense. As a people, we should not incarcerate those who have committed no crime.
People who are suffering a mental health crisis and have not committed a crime do not belong in jail. They need clinically appropriate care. It is certainly not the fault of patients that the number of beds available has dropped dramatically throughout the state for people with mental illness. They are patients - not criminals, as the law in some instances treats them now.
As with any acute or chronic condition or disease, healthcare professionals are best suited to deal with and treat the person who is suffering from the episode, not a jailer.
Sen. Kagan has a deep and abiding belief in the human spirit. He believes people with mental health issues deserve better than being sent to already overcrowded jails when they have committed no crime. Imagine how much worse a situation might become if you found yourself in jail as opposed to the comfort you might feel if you found yourself in the hands of a trained provider.
Sen. Kagan has strong support for SB 17-207 from the State Department of Human Services' Office of Behavioral Health. The bill would have funding from the Marijuana Tax Cash Fund (MTCF), which is different from marijuana taxes used to fund schools. Indeed, health care is one of the things for which MCTF dollars must be used. The program would take no money from education or public infrastructure.
Please join us in supporting SB 17-207, Sen. Kagan's bill to stop jailing law-abiding Coloradans who are experiencing mental health crises.
Vicki Tosher/Perry Keen