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CDOC Takes Momentous Step Toward Providing Better Treatment to Prisoners with Serious Mental Illness

March 25, 2014

The Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) has released a new policy on the treatment of prisoners with serious mental illness that will go into effect on April 1, 2014.  The policy provides for increased out of cell time and individual therapeutic contacts for prisoners with serious mental illness and/or developmental disabilities housed in CDOC’s residential treatment programs (RTP).  The policy adopts a broadened definition of “serious mental illness” and mandates the following:

  1. Prisoners diagnosed with a “serious mental illness” are to be considered for placement in an RTP within 30 days of diagnosis.
  2. All RTP prisoners are to receive twenty hours of out-of-cell time every week, including ten hours of dedicated therapeutic activity.
  3. Many RTP prisoners are required to receive frequent one-on-one mental health contacts with a consistent mental health provider.

Statement of ACLU Staff Attorney Rebecca Wallace

“The ACLU of Colorado commends Colorado Department of Corrections Executive Director Rick Raemisch and his staff who have shown remarkable leadership on this issue.

“Adoption of this policy is a momentous step toward ensuring that prisoners with a serious mental illness are not held in solitary confinement and will receive meaningful out-of-cell mental health treatment.”

Read the new policy here:

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