Melton Bill Granting Discretion to Judges Advances

(March 21) – A bill by Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, that gives judges greater discretion when imposing consecutive sentences for certain crimes passed the House on second reading this morning. SB16-051 removes the requirement that a person convicted of two or more separate, specified crimes of violence arising out of the same incident be sentenced to serve prison terms consecutively rather than concurrently.

“This bill gives our courts more discretion determining the sentences for certain offenses,” said Rep. Melton. “This does not get rid of consecutive sentences—it simply gives judges the discretion to decide a punishment that fits the crime.”

“First the Colorado legislature increased the minimum sentences, then we doubled the maximum sentences,” said Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Denver, as he gave a short history of over-criminalization in Colorado. “Over the years that followed, Colorado started enhancing the sentences. Then Colorado started having massive jail populations of people serving incredibly long sentences. This trend has to be reversed piece by piece because it was implemented piece by piece.”

The bill passed out of the Senate 33-2. The voice vote approval sends the bill to the House for third reading.

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