July 16, 2019

SB 16-169: Allowing Certain Persons Detained on Mental Health Holds to be Admitted to Law Enforcement Facilities

On March 21, 2016, Sen. Beth Martinez and Rep. Tracy Kraft-Tharp introduced SB 16-169Concerning Changes Related to the Seventy-Two-Hour Emergency Mental Health Procedure. The bill was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it was amended and referred to the Senate Floor for Second Reading.  The bill was amended several times on Second Reading in the Senate, and it passed Third Reading with no further amendments. It has been introduced in the House and is assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

The bill clarifies the difference between a designated facility, an emergency medical services facility, and a law enforcement facility as those terms are used in connection with the 72-hour emergency mental health procedure. Under C.R.S. § 27-65-102, a Designated Facility means a facility designated or approved by the executive director for seventy-two-hour treatment and evaluations of persons meeting the criteria provided in § 27-65-105. Emergency Medical Services Facility means a facility licensed pursuant to Part 1 of Article 3 of Title 25, that provides medical services. Finally, the bill defines Law Enforcement Facility to mean a secure jail, lockup, or other place used to confine persons charged with or convicted of crimes.

Under current law, a person who is being detained under a 72-hour emergency mental health procedure must be taken to a facility that was previously approved by the executive director of the Department of Human Services (“Designated Facility”). The bill looks to expand this and would allow individuals to be admitted to a law enforcement facility if there is no available space in a Designated Facility or an emergency medical facility and if certain conditions are met. These conditions include, but are not limited to, the person cannot be held longer than 24 hours in the law enforcement facility unless a court order is obtained granting a one-time extension that cannot exceed 72 additional hours.

Current law also allows for the facility where a person is being treated to hold the person for no longer than 72 hours from the time of admission, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays if treatment and evaluation is not available on those days. This bill would also exclude any time required for non-psychiatric medical screening or treatment from the 72-hour calculations.

Additionally, if, at any time during the 72-hour custody, a mental health or medical professional determines the person can be properly cared for without being detained, that person must be discharged as soon as possible.

Mark Proust is a 2016 J.D. Candidate at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

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