(May 29) – A bipartisan bill to tighten the state’s procedures for counting prison sentences was signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper on Tuesday.
HB13-1323, sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem Claire Levy (D-Boulder) and Rep. Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch), requires the Department of Corrections to treat offenders serving two or more sentences as serving them consecutively, unless a judge orders that they be served concurrently. If there’s any doubt, the Department of Corrections is required to seek clarification from the sentencing court.
The new law is in part a response to the March 19 killing of the DOC director, Tom Clements, and a pizza delivery driver two days earlier. The presumptive killer, Evan Ebel, was released from prison in January, four years early, because his sentence for assaulting a prison guard was mistakenly allowed to be served concurrently rather than being tacked on to the robbery convictions for which he was originally sentenced. The new law is intended to reduce the chance of similar administrative errors.
“It is a tragedy that this happened once,” Rep. Levy said. “With this new law we can hope that this never happens again.”