(Photo: CPR/Andrea Dukakis)

Colorado prisons have new requirements for dealing with mentally ill inmates under a new state law.

It requires the Colorado Department of Corrections to evaluate all inmates in solitary and those the department determines to be mentally ill would have to be moved.  

The Colorado Prison Law Project provides legal services to inmates.  

Director Lisi Owen would like the state to end solitary confinement altogether.

But she added: "We have to see this as a very important step toward the long term goal of changing the way we incarcerate or even punish people."

Still, Owen said the state needs to shift from the "very punitive mindset that exists today, where we are truly genuinely focused on rehabilitation.” 

The bill passed in the Legislature with bipartisan support.