Mental Health Services in Denver’s Jail Systems Follow-up

Silver Star sculpture outside Denver County Jail.

The Denver Sheriff Department fully implemented 14 recommendations made in the original audit report and partially implemented 10 others. However, it has not taken steps to address the risks five other recommendations had sought to resolve. By fully implementing 14 of the recommendations, the department:

  • Identified full-time staffing needs for its Mental Health Services Division.
  • Developed procedures for staff to better ensure data-entry errors are mitigated.
  • Is better monitoring data and information to ensure performance measures and program objectives are being met and mental health programs are offered equitably.
  • Has a process to track general and mental health requests and complaints in a consistent and complete manner to identify trends, address issues, and adjust processes as needed.

Graphic showing 14 implemented recommendations, 10 partial, and five not implemented.

Remaining Risks

The recommendations the sheriff department did not fully implement present several lingering risks. Among them:

  • Strategies and success measures for its programs lack specific timelines and are at times vague.
  • The department may be paying contractors for services not provided or allowed, and it did not amend contract budgets to align with increases in benefits and indirect-cost rates.
  • The department provided no clear evidence on how it is working with Denver Health to update policies and procedures related to tracking and analyzing data for general and mental health requests and complaints.
  • The department’s two Transgender Review Board forms are still not consistently completed by staff or the people in jail — meaning those who identify as transgender may not have decisions documented about their housing preferences.
  • The department is still early in the planning stages for implementing an electronic medical chart system, continues to use paper patient records, and provided no documentation on how it decided to charge fees for medical records.
  • The department is still not keeping training records for some staff.

Auditor's Letter

March 7, 2024

In keeping with generally accepted government auditing standards and Auditor’s Office policy, as authorized by city ordinance, we have a responsibility to monitor and follow up on audit recommendations to ensure city agencies address audit findings through appropriate corrective action and to aid us in planning future audits.

In June 2022, we audited mental health services in Denver’s jail system and found risks involving program strategies and data, contract monitoring, compliance with training requirements, and equity. The Denver Sheriff Department agreed to implement all 29 recommendations.

We recently followed up and found the sheriff department fully implemented 14 recommendations. Ten were partially implemented, and five remain not implemented.

Although the Denver Sheriff Department made notable progress, it did not fully address all the risks associated with our original findings. Consequently, we may revisit these risk areas in future audits to ensure the city takes appropriate corrective action.

We appreciate the leaders and staff in the Sheriff Department as well as the Department of Public Safety who shared their time and knowledge with us throughout the audit and the follow-up process. Please contact me at 720-913-5000 with any questions.

Denver Auditor's Office

Auditor's Signature
Timothy O'Brien, CPA

Timothy O'Brien Official Headshot

Denver Auditor

Denver Auditor's Office

201 W. Colfax Ave. #705 Denver, CO 80202
Call: 720-913-5000
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