Legislation would require jails to follow standards adopted by the Legislative Oversight Committee for Colorado Jail Standards
DENVER, CO – Today, the Legislative Oversight Committee for Colorado Jail Standards (Committee) voted to advance a bill that would help ensure individuals housed in jails across the state have a basic set of rights.
Sponsored by Senator Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, Senator James Coleman, D-Denver, Representative Judy Amabile, D-Boulder, and Representative Lorena Garcia, D-Unincorporated Adams County, Bill 1 would require jails to follow standards adopted today by the Committee that address and improve the rights of people incarcerated in jails, including access to health care, visitation, housing, discipline, and more.
“In order to reduce recidivism and improve safety in our communities, certain quality standards must be met in Colorado’s jails,” said Fields. “With this bill, we are taking the first step towards implementing statewide jail standards and bolstering access to services that can better outcomes for incarcerated individuals. By involving a broad coalition on the Jail Standards Advisory Committee, we will develop a rounded approach to the continued improvement of incarcerated Coloradans’ rights.”
“The conditions that incarcerated Coloradans experience in jail play a role in reducing recidivism and our overall public safety,” said Amabile. “Our 2022 legislation created an oversight committee to study possible changes we could make to standards in Colorado jails. The bill we advanced today extends the oversight committee’s role in continuing to revise jail standards and involving behavioral health professionals, law enforcement agencies, and county representatives to implement these new standards.”
“Too often differences in Colorado jail standards result in a lack of appropriate care,” said Coleman. “By requiring jails to comply with statewide standards established by the Legislative Oversight Committee, we can better ensure that individuals' needs are being met and we can improve outcomes for those incarcerated in Colorado jails. I look forward to the work ahead to implement statewide standards and build on our progress of creating a more just criminal justice system.”
“Coloradans who are in custody should not be subject to unsafe conditions,” said Garcia. “The Legislative Oversight Committee for Colorado Jail Standards recommends new jail standards based on data and insight from criminal justice professionals to ensure that basic needs are met and dignity preserved. Our bill facilitates the implementation of these changes, creating a safer environment in jails and better outcomes for incarcerated Coloradans that reduce recidivism and cycles of incarceration.”
The bill creates a Jail Standards Advisory Committee composed of sheriffs, county commissioners, the state public defender, and advocates. The Advisory Committee would be charged with conducting jail assessments to ensure compliance with the standards, establishing assessment standards and procedures, and submitting an annual report and recommendations to the Legislative Oversight Committee. The Attorney General’s office would conduct jail assessments in partnership with the Advisory Committee, and could conduct investigations regarding potential violations of the standards. Under the bill, the Division of Criminal Justice in the Department of Public Safety is required to create a list of funding assistance and resources for jails to offset the costs of complying with the new standards.