Screening individuals booked in the municipal jail and assessing appropriate individuals for competency; the program connects clients to treatment out of custody and works toward prosecutorial diversion

The Aurora Municipal Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the State of Colorado Courts in Arapahoe, Adams, and Douglas Counties.  When someone is arrested by the Aurora Police Department on many lower-level misdemeanor cases, that individual can be charged in either state court or Aurora Municipal Court.   The Aurora Public Defender handles hundreds of cases each year that involve behavioral health issues, often including folks who are incompetent to proceed.   Prior to the implementation of Aurora Sustained, the Aurora Public Defender did not have the procedures nor the staff to address competency.  Aurora Mental Health Center agreed to accept referrals from the Aurora Public Defender, and the city prosecutor has agreed to dismiss cases where the defendant was found incompetent to proceed.  

Mental health screening and assessment for individuals booked into the Aurora Municipal Jail, professional competency evaluation, and cell phones for clients who have no other way of being contacted by the program or treatment provider

A program manager and two peer specialists

100+ per year

Increase in justice-involved individuals connecting with mental health treatment; Decrease in individuals with mental health problems prosecuted and sentenced to county jail; Ultimately, a decrease in individuals who require admittance to the state hospital for competency restoration in conjunction with a subsequent county or district-level charge

This program has two standout elements.  The first is that it is operated out of a public defender’s office.  Typically, in pre-sentence mental health programs, the defense bar is put in a difficult position because these programs must acquire some information about the clients which may compromise the ability of the defense counsel to control client information related to the client’s defense.  Operating a mental health program through the public defender’s office eliminates that tension.  Second, this program targets municipally-charged individuals.  The question for this program, to be determined through more-extensive future evaluation, is to determine the extent to which the municipal court system is a feeder to the state justice, and competency restoration, system.  

$719,284 for three years