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Home Administration Court Services Bridges Program
Home Administration Court Services Bridges Program
Bridges Program

The Bridges Program was established by 18-251 (read here) and placed 29 Court Liaisons across Colorado's 22 judicial districts to facilitate collaboration between the criminal justice and mental health systems. 

Court Liaisons serve defendants (referred to as participants) in the criminal justice system with mental health needs, with a priority on serving individuals for whom a question of competency has been raised. Court Liaisons are appointed to cases through court order.

Court Liaisons 1) work directly with participants to identify needs and connect them to services, 2) report to judges and attorneys regarding available services in the community, and 3) facilitate communiation and coordination of care with the Office of Behavioral Health competency programs. 

The Bridges Program began serving participants in 2019, and the model has strong indicators of early success as evidenced by the following outcomes and progress toward legislative goals:

  • 1,734 participants entered the program between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, representing Court Liaison support in 2,518 cases.  These numbers represent a 50% increase in the number of participants served by the Bridges Program over the previous fiscal year and a 27% increase in court cases served.
  • In FY21, 85% of judicial officers with criminal dockets made referrals to the program.
  • Approximately 82% of Bridges Program cases are competency-related, and the remaining 18% are serving individuals with general mental health challenges but for whom competency has not been raised.
  • Liaisons provided 5,855 reports informing the courts and attorneys of the participant’s individual needs and available services, almost doubling the number of reports filed in the previous fiscal year.
  • Of the participants entering the Bridges Program, 48% were in custody and 52% were on bond.  Of the 48% who were in custody, 19% were released immediately upon the appointment of a liaison.  Additionally, by the close of program participation, 61% of those who remained in custody were subsequently released at some point during their engagement with the program.  Ultimately, these outcomes point to a 69% rate of release for participants who enter the program while in custody.
  • With the support of their liaison, participants on bond connected to approximately 1,100 community-based services.  47% of referrals were to behavioral health services, and 53% were to other support services, such as housing, social support programs, and healthcare.

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