The jail in Durango reached capacity earlier this month when it housed 228 inmates, 11 more than its listed capacity of 217 inmates.
The suit comes at a time when the Colorado Department of Human Services say the number of mentally ill people in jail has skyrocketed.
A bill that died at the stroke of midnight Thursday would have shifted much of the state’s mentally ill treatment for people in jail to the jails themselves.
In the final few days of the legislative session, the bills will likely get a final Senate vote by the end of the week and then head to the House for consideration.
The state has been sued for how they’ve handled people deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial three times since 2008.
“What I saw at Saguache was absolutely horrific. I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire career,” said Boulder DA Michael Dougherty.
More than 90 percent of the people booked into Alamosa County Jail are either addicted to drugs or are in for drug-related charges.
Advocates are urging state judges to be more liberal about letting pre-trial defendants leave jail without paying a cash bond.
Colorado’s jails face a lot of challenges; many are dangerously overcrowded and dilapidated. In Pueblo, the problem is finding money after voters rejected a tax in November.
Colorado’s jails are severely overcrowded, but half the people in jail haven't been convicted of anything -- they’re stuck behind bars because they can’t pay bond.