(Jan. 25) – Rep. Mike Weissman’s bill to make evidence-based changes in the state’s standards for parolees won the House Judiciary Committee’s support today.
Updating Colorado’s parole standards for the first time in 25 years, HB18-1029 would set the mandatory length of parole for Class 2 and Class 3 felonies at three years instead of five. Class 4 felonies are already set at three years’ mandatory parole; Class 5 felonies are set at two years and Class 6 felonies at one year. Class 1 felons are not eligible for parole.
Statistics show that recidivism is highest in the first six months of release from prison and falls off sharply by approximately the 18th month of parole.
“A parolee who can get through three years without reoffending is, statistically, far more likely to stay out of trouble,” said Rep. Weissman, D-Aurora. “But parole supervision costs the state more than $6,100 per year, per parolee. We can preserve public safety while being wiser stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
The Colorado Department of Corrections testified in strong support of the bill, and Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, has signed up to sponsor it in the Senate. It is one of a package of bills brought forward by the Sentencing in the Criminal Justice System Interim Study Committee, a bipartisan, bicameral group that met last summer and fall.
“Colorado should spend parole dollars early in the parole period to reduce recidivism rather than in years four and five, when there is close to zero additional risk of recidivism,” Rep. Weissman said.
The change would apply to new parolees and would not be retroactive. Nor would the bill impact parole earned time or the parole board’s discretion to revoke or extend parole.
The Judiciary Committee’s 6-4 vote sends HB18-1029 to the House Appropriations Committee.