Putting people before labels.

Denver spoke. We listened. We need greater supports, connections, practices, and opportunities to redirect people with mental health and substance misuse crisis away from the criminal justice system.

Increased diversion opportunities.

Far too many people with mental illnesses are in jails and prisons. We need improved crisis response options and diverse ways to respond to crisis to reduce the need for arrest. We need more opportunities at different points in the justice system where jail time is reduced or avoided, and the individual is linked to comprehensive community-based services and treatment.

More emphasis and access to services.

More emphasis and access to mental health and substance misuse services and supports that follow someone across programs, and institutions while in, and after they leave, the justice system. Access to peer support services to assist individuals in making decisions that promote their recovery.

Better connected systems for justice, health and housing.

Even though the same individual touches all of these systems, the data, policies, funding, and decision-making for all of these are fragmented. We need universal procedures for referrals, transition planning, and release of information to better support individuals as they transition into community.

To date, Caring for Denver Foundation has awarded more than $24.7 Million to redirect people with mental health and substance misuse crisis away from the criminal justice system.

In 2021, Caring for Denver approved 13 grants totaling more than $8.4 million to community organizations and City of Denver agencies to prevent individuals struggling with substance misuse and mental health distress from entering or re-entering the criminal justice system. Grants will support programs that help appropriately move Denver from a criminal justice response to a public health, trauma, mental health and substance misuse crisis response.

This is in addition to the more than $9.1 million Caring for Denver approved for 23 grants in 2020 and the nearly $7.2 million allocated to the City and County of Denver for developing a facility that creates alternatives to jail for people with mental health and/or substance use disorder needs.


View Summaries of our Alternatives to Jail Grants

Alternatives to Jail Learning Brief

Caring For Denver Foundation is committed to learning both as a measure of progress and to guide our future actions. Deeply listening to our grantees and their expertise is part of this commitment. Learning Briefs share back what we’ve learned and how grantees are helping us think about our work differently.

Download the 2021 Alternatives to Jail Learning Brief.


We want to hear your ideas.

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