Iris Eytan’s decade-long and tireless fight for Colorado’s Mentally Ill

Iris Eytan’s decade-long and tireless fight for Colorado’s Mentally Ill

Colorado Cries Uncle in Ten-Year Fight Over Warehousing of Mentally Ill

By Michael Roberts
December 14, 2018

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has agreed to the appointment of a “special master” to independently oversee the state’s plan to address the routine warehousing of mentally ill individuals in jails for months at a time without evaluating their condition, much less ordering any treatment that might help them.

Essentially, the move is an admission that what the state has done to address the issue over the span of a ten-year court battle simply hasn’t worked. (Coffman’s response to the request for a special master and a document outlining the duties of the person to be placed in the position are accessible below.)

The plaintiff in the case is Disability Law Colorado, and among the lawyers representing the agency is attorney Iris Eytan, who recently outlined her decade of involvement in the controversy.

Back in 2008, Eytan learned that after a mentally ill defendant was jailed for stealing a bicycle, his public defender had asked for an evaluation to determine if he was competent to stand trial — and six months later, he was still waiting for such an analysis. Moreover, he wasn’t the only person in this situation. By Eytan’s estimate, eighty people suspected of suffering from mental illness were lingering behind bars over low-level offenses every day in Colorado because they didn’t have the resources to pay bonds that would have led to their release.

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