DENVER, CO — Today the Prison Population Management Interim Study Committee advanced three legislative proposals to reduce Colorado’s dependence on private prisons and lay the groundwork for criminal justice reforms to come. This is the first step in the process for the legislature to review these proposals during the next session.
“I’m fully committed to moving away from Colorado’s dependence on private prisons and lowering our state’s incarceration rate in a way that improves public safety and decreases recidivism,” said Prison Population Committee Chair Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver). “The legislation we passed over the last few years has slowed the tide of incarceration in Colorado. Now, we’re focusing on transitioning away from private prisons and on finding ways to reintegrate incarcerated people in a safe and effective way. These bills can provide a roadmap towards a more effective and humane criminal justice system, and I look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders on these proposals.”
“Our committee today advanced important proposals to reform the way young adults are treated in the correctional system and reduce the use of private prisons in Colorado,” said committee member Rep. Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D-Denver). “These bills are an important first step towards making change and providing a national example for criminal justice reform. I look forward to working with stakeholders including District Attorneys, Victim’s Rights Groups, Public Defenders, and others involved in this process to make sure the legislation is airtight in ensuring justice is carried out. We have a great deal of work left to do, but I remain optimistic and am very pleased with our committee’s progress.”
1. Young Adult Criminal Justice Reforms. The committee advanced a bill that creates a process for adults between the ages of 18 and 25 to petition to have certain types of felony criminal cases transferred to juvenile court. Research shows that young adults’ brains do not mature fully until after the age of 25. The bill proposes a new sentencing grid for felonies committed between the ages of 18 and 25; would create broadened probation guidelines for nonviolent, first-time felony offenders and would create a process for courts to consider vacating a felony and entering a misdemeanor conviction for these types of offenses. The bill would better align the state’s criminal justice system with what researchers are reporting on brain development in young adults. Sponsors: Rep. Gonzales-Gutierrez, Sen. Gonzales, Sen. Rodriguez
2. Prison Population Reduction and Management. The committee also advanced an important piece of legislation to transition Colorado away from the use of private prisons. If enacted, the Department of Corrections (DOC) may use the Centennial Correctional Facility (CSP II) to house close custody inmates, but for each state inmate housed at CSP II, one inmate must be removed from one of the three private prisons used by the state to house inmates until CSP II reaches full capacity. The bill would also create efficiencies in the Parole Board’s review measures when the prison vacancy rate falls below 3 percent for 30 consecutive days. Importantly, the bill would also require a DOC study on ending the use of private prisons in Colorado by 2025. Sponsors: Rep. Herod, Sen. Gonzales 3. Criminal Justice System Operational Processes Study. Finally, the committee approved a bill that would require the DOC to take a deep look into how individuals proceed through the stages of the criminal justice system. It lays out parameters for the DOC study and sets a strict time period for the study to be completed. This would allow the state to identify roadblocks in the system to improve efficiency. The study would also make recommendations on best practices found both in Colorado and in other states for creating more efficient operational and technological systems and procedures for use in the criminal justice system. Sponsors: Rep. Gonzales-Gutierrez, Sen. Gonzales, Sen. Rodriguez