(April 27) – Rep. Pete Lee’s bipartisan bill to create a crime prevention pilot program for areas of the state with little economic opportunity and high rates of criminal activity earned initial approval from the House this evening on second reading.
“This is a paradigm shift in criminal justice in Colorado,” said Rep. Lee, D-Colorado Springs. “The underlying premise is to take money from savings in the criminal justice system and invest it in improving the quality of life and economic opportunity in crime-impacted neighborhoods.”
“For decades we have been fighting crime with huge public safety expenditures to put more cops on the street and then, on the back end, with high incarceration,” Rep. Lee continued. “It’s time to change that and instead focus on preventing crime on the front end by encouraging economic growth, creating good jobs and investing in education and community development.”
HB17-1326 launches a pilot program in southeast Colorado Springs and north Aurora. It reduces the length of time that a parolee may serve for a technical parole violation, and through the revenue saved, creates the justice reinvestment crime prevention initiative in those neighborhoods. The funding will be distributed by local crime prevention planning teams to expand small business lending to create jobs and provide grants for community-based services to strengthen families, develop neighborhoods, improve academic achievement, promote recovery from trauma, provide support to crime survivors and reduce recidivism.
“We know that a lack of jobs and educational opportunities, drug addiction and trauma all contribute to crime. So let’s use this funding to target those causes,” concluded Rep. Lee.
The program is modeled after successful programs elsewhere and is a first for Colorado. A provision in the bill requires data collection to inform future crime prevention efforts in the state.