News & Media

What’s Happening: Equitas

Apr 04 2018

On March 28th and 29th, Equitas convened public defenders from across the nation to discuss best practices of diverting people who are in need of mental health services but often end up in the criminal justice system. There were over 80 people who attended the day and a half summit in Denver, Colorado with over 21 states represented by the attendees. Judge Steve Leifman and Governor John Hickenlooper gave compelling speeches about the need for such changes within our society.  

 This event was documented in the Denverite, which provided further insight into this very complex and difficult issue. “One of the initial challenges is recognizing that someone has a mental health problem. We are trained as legal professionals, not mental health professionals. Once it is identified, the next challenge is connecting the client with services that will help, and finding willing and available resources,” stated a public defender from Cook County in Chicago.  

 Throughout the sessions, attendees were asked to think critically about viable next steps to bringing about such a significant change. These thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations were then captured in Equitas’s Course Corrections document with the hope of bringing more awareness to the issue. “We need to have a strong voice and lead for a national consensus on the next steps on how we treat and represent those of our clients that suffer with mental health conditions.  This conference is bringing thought leaders from across the country to bring fresh ideas and, hopefully, consensus on how we go forward,” commented a Colorado state public defender.  

 Equitas’s mission is to disentangling mental health and criminal justice, and one of their key programs is hosting these Course Corrections summits around the nation. To learn more about Equitas and the summits they have coming up, visit their website