Colorado’s criminal justice system has a mental health crisis. Will the state change its approach?

Officials agree that growing numbers of people with mental health disorders in Colorado’s criminal justice system is a crisis.

But, in a hearing this week at the Capitol, several lawmakers said that the 20-year-old task force set up to help address that challenge has been hamstrung by a lack of staff, a lack of authority and a lack of data and resources to answer some basic questions about the effectiveness of the state’s approach.

Some of those lawmakers said they’re leaning toward voting against reauthorizing the committee when its charge expires in a year.

Task force members presented Tuesday to lawmakers at the Capitol, highlighting the group’s achievements but also confessing at multiple turns that the 32 people who comprise the group — including mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and judges — sometimes aren’t sure what their collective purpose is.

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