Nov 22, 2023
[Denver, CO | November 22, 2023] Disability Law Colorado (DLC) applauds the work of The Colorado Jail Standards Commission. This report to the Legislative Oversight Committee–which includes extensive input and recommendations from Meghan Baker, JD, MSW, Facilities and Community Integration Attorney Team Leader at DLC, and chair of the commission–will help improve the health and safety of Colorado’s disabled community.
Colorado will soon join 28 other states and have a baseline set of standards that will ensure uniform and humane treatment for vulnerable individuals in jails. These standards will provide guidance on the daily living and care for individuals including–but not limited to–housing, communication, visitation, medical and behavioral health care, use of force, and restraints.
Individuals with disabilities are disproportionately incarcerated at up to twice the rates of those without, segregating them from society. As mental health facilities that serve people with disabilities continue to shutter their doors, the criminal justice system has swept up those who need support, rather than incarceration, which often comes with little to no necessary services.
Mass incarceration of individuals with disabilities is unethical, discriminatory, and cruel. DLC works to protect and promote the rights of these individuals and continue the fight for policy change at the state level. Using our authority under federal law to monitor all facilities where people receive care or services, DLC will continue to investigate and monitor allegations of abuse and neglect of all individuals with disabilities across the state.
“It has been a great honor to chair the Colorado Jail Standards Commission. I am proud and humbled by the work we did to bring together diverse viewpoints and engage in meaningful, respectful discussion about highly sensitive topics,” said Meghan Baker, commission chair. “The commission’s dedication to this work over almost 18 months has resulted in a set of proposed standards that will be instrumental in bringing increased equity, consistency, and transparency to jails in Colorado. DLC looks forward to continuing to be a leading voice for reform in this area. We will continue to elevate voices of lived experience, and partner with law enforcement and other stakeholders to ensure jails have the resources necessary to implement these heightened standards.”
DLC looks forward to the passage of pending legislation which will make these standards enforceable and create a long-term plan to continue to improve the standards of Colorado jails. These standards will serve as a model for future action and improve the health and safety of all those who are incarcerated–especially for individuals with disabilities. Disability Law Colorado strives to build on this momentum and reverse decades of mass incarceration, treating individuals with disabilities more effectively and humanely.
About Disability Law Colorado: Disability Law Colorado is the Protection & Advocacy System for Colorado. We work to protect disability rights and improve the human, civil, and legal rights of Coloradans through legal representation, advocacy, and education.Press Contact: Lindsay Leuthold Director of Development & Marketing Disability Law Colorado Email: LLeuthold@DisabilityLawCO.org Phone: 720-610-4286