Creating Clarity on Prison Sentences

(April 30) – A bipartisan bill to tighten the state’s procedures for counting prison sentences sailed through the House Judiciary Committee today.

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 bill is 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 the DOC let him serve a concurrent, rather than consecutive, sentence for assaulting a prison guard. The early release, violating a plea agreement mandating a consecutive sentence, has been described as a clerical error.

“The purpose of this bill is to be sure that the offender actually serves the sentence to which they were sentenced,” Rep. Levy told the committee, which voted 11-0 to move the bill to the full House.

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