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Colorado Legislature Passes Brain Injury Pilot Program To Reduce Recidivism

Inmate holds the hand of someone on the outside through iron bars.

We are excited to share that the Colorado legislature approved SB21-138, aimed at improving support for individuals in the criminal justice system with a brain injury. The Colorado Lab-supported study Reducing Recidivism for Justice Involved Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury informed and prompted creation of law.

Our research shows that 25-87% of inmates report having experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI), compared to 8.5% of the general population. Colorado probationers with TBI have higher rates of prior felony conviction, lower rates of successful probation completion, and are significantly more likely to re-offend than their peers. Female probationers with TBI, who tend to have a history of multiple TBIs from violent circumstances, appear especially vulnerable to poor outcomes.

Reducing Colorado’s high rate of recidivism (50%) is critical to relieving the state’s overburdened corrections systems. This new law will require the Colorado Department of Corrections to create a pilot program to determine whether a comprehensive brain injury program within the department improves outcomes for offenders.

As we await Governor Polis’s signature on this legislation, we want to congratulate our agency partners – Colorado Judicial Branch, Division of Probation Services and Colorado Department of Human Services, MINDSOURCE Brain Injury Network – and the lead researcher, Dr. Kim Gorgens of the University of Denver for their dedication in studying this issue and leadership in moving research findings into meaningful change.

To learn more about this study, contact Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein.