Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Fewer Public Defender's Visits at Jail

Chief Public Defender Doug Wilson states that we are at 65% of capacity for public defenders statewide. It is indicative of budget woes and an overburdened jail system. (h/t to Greg at PD stuff)

This week, the jail court docket was filled with cases, some that had been on hold since last week. In what is becoming customary nowadays, the docket was split in two — felonies and misdemeanors — because there were 32 defendants scheduled to see the judge.

Jail Cmdr. Ed Torres said Tuesday's traffic in the jail courthouse is catching up to Mondays, which is notoriously busy after a weekend of arrests.

Sheriff Joe Pelle, who runs the jail, said he is unaware of inmate numbers increasing because of the reduction in visits by public defenders. In fact, Pelle said, the inmate population is down slightly from the same time last year.

Prosecutors voiced their concerns to the public defender's office last week.

"We're trying to find a resolution to have a public defender where a public defender needs to be," said Boulder County Deputy District Attorney Tim Talkington, who used to be a defense attorney. "It's affecting the ability to administer justice."

Talkington said he doesn't know how many defendants the once-a-week visits have affected, but he knew of people who sat in jail for days or as long as two weeks before even speaking to a lawyer.

The cutback in visits by public defenders wasn't noticeable until classes ended at the University of Colorado, and all the law school students who render free legal aid went away for the summer, he said.

Boulder Daily Camera

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