House Advances Bill to Reform and Improve Pre Trial Detention

DENVER, CO– The House today advanced Representatives Steven Woodrow and Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez’s bill to reform pre-trial court processes for bond hearings and strengthen due process by ensuring timely access to justice under the law. The bill passed on second reading. 

“Too often, Coloradans languish in our jails for excessive periods of time while awaiting trial for minor offenses,” said Rep. Steven Woodrow, D-Denver. “One of the foundational values of this country is the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. This reform of our pre trial and bonding processes will ensure a more timely, more efficient and more just system for those awaiting a trial in Colorado.”

“Improving the manner in which our courts hold bond hearings and handle monetary bonds will keep our jails from overcrowding and will further the cause of justice for individuals who have yet to have their case heard in court,” said Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez, D-Denver. “Holding an individual behind bars for days before a bond hearing or for hours and hours after bail has been posted is not justice. I’m proud of the work we did today.” 

HB21-1280 requires courts to hold an initial bond hearing with an arrested individual within 48 hours of arrival at a detention facility and changes statute to allow these hearings to be conducted online or over the phone. Some counties throughout the state already hold bond hearings six or seven days a week. For rural and under-resourced jurisdictions, this bill creates and funds a statewide bond hearing officer  to better allow hearings to be held on weekends and holidays. 

The bill also makes several changes to the monetary bond process. It requires that a defendant who has posted bond be released no later than six hours later, allows bonds to be paid by cash, money order, or cashier’s check, ensures that a defendant receives receipt of the payment of their bond, and prohibits officers from requirings bonds to be paid in the defendant’s name. Lastly, it requires each jail to establish a way to pay bond online by January 1, 2022.