“This will significantly reduce the criminalization of people with mental illness,” a Disability Law Colorado lawyer said.
Building more beds across the state won’t solve the crush of people waiting sometimes months in jail for competency treatment.
The "civil bed freeze" was meant to help state officials treat more mentally ill prisoners more quickly, but was criticized by advocates for seizing resources.
The move, which includes about 20 beds for juveniles, virtually cuts off all state beds for mentally ill people.
State officials technically have just 28 days to get those in jail a competency restoration, but many wait much, much longer.
Sheriff Fred McKee said his deputies are not qualified to care for a 66-year-old man who has been in jail for weeks with no word on when a hospital bed will open up.
The two sides, Disability Law Colorado and state officials, head to federal court Friday to fight it out again.
When a judge threatens contempt, state officials have a limited period of time to move someone from jail to a hospital bed or treatment center.
If someone is found mentally incompetent to stand trial, the state is required to “restore” them to competency within 28 days. Lawyers and advocates say the state is taking far longer.
The suit comes at a time when the Colorado Department of Human Services say the number of mentally ill people in jail has skyrocketed.