Help on the way for mentally ill in Western Slope jails |

Help on the way for mentally ill in Western Slope jails

Gabrielle Porter/The Daily Sentinel
The new West Springs Hospital in Grand Junction.
Christopher Tomlinson

Some mentally ill people in western Colorado jails could benefit from a set of initiatives that will change the way the state evaluates and treats those considered not fit for trial, according to Western Slope mental health and legal experts.

As state officials continue to deal with the ramifications of a lawsuit that has to do with the length of time criminal defendants are waiting in jails for mental health evaluations and treatment at high-in-demand locked psychiatric hospitals, two programs are underway that are expected to make it more feasible for lower-risk criminal defendants to go through those processes while out of custody.

That could be good news for mentally ill people facing criminal charges who qualify on the Western Slope, who may be able to access treatment more quickly and in a more familiar setting, said Sharon Raggio, executive director of Mind Springs Health and West Springs Hospital.

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