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.


Monday, May 21, 2007

HB 1107 - On It's Way to the Governor

I would like to thank the Post for running this article. We hope that you will call or email the governor and ask him to support HB 1107.

Ray Hupp was 22 when he got caught with $25 worth of cocaine. That screw-up has trailed the 44-year-old construction- company owner half his life, and he'd like to erase it.

It's possible he could, under a proposed law awaiting Gov. Bill Ritter's signature.

People convicted of certain nonsexual crimes could petition a judge to seal their criminal records 10 years after completing prison time, probation or parole, wiping their pasts clean.

"I kick myself all the time," said Hupp, recalling all the job applications he filled out, checking the "yes" box on whether he had committed a crime. "Nobody ever called."

Some say House Bill 1107 offers the gift of a second chance. But to critics, who imagine an employer unknowingly hiring someone convicted of embezzlement to keep their books, it strips away the public's right to know.

The proposal would reverse a 1988 law that shut down the process to seal criminal convictions in Colorado.

Under current law, judges can seal arrest records only when there is an acquittal or the charge is dropped. State law does not allow someone convicted as an adult to seal records of a conviction.

The bill under consideration by the governor says a person with a sealed conviction can check "no" to the question about criminal history on job applications.

"It's a very strong incentive for people - do well, and there will be a light at the end of the tunnel," said Christie Donner, director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

Only people who do not commit a crime in the 10 years after completing prison, probation or parole are eligible to seal their records. They could not seal convictions involving sexual offenses, domestic violence or crimes against pregnant women.


The Denver Post

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

OFFICE OF GOV. BILL RITTER, JR.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
FRIDAY, JUNE 1, 2007

Contact:
Evan Dreyer, 720.350.8370

GOV. RITTER'S VETO MESSAGE ON HOUSE BILL 1107

June 1, 2007

The Honorable Colorado House of Representatives
Sixty-Sixth General Assembly
First Regular Session
State Capitol
Denver, Colorado 80203

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am filing with the Secretary of State House Bill 07-1107, “Sealing of Criminal Justice Records.” I vetoed this message as of _________ __ m. today and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.

House Bill 07-1107 would extend the current criminal justice records sealing procedure to convictions. Currently, criminal records can only be sealed if no charges are filed, if all charges are dismissed, or if the accused is acquitted. The effect of this proposal would be to add many records of convictions to those records of non-convictions that can now be sealed.

I understand that the justification for this proposed change is that many times individuals with prior convictions are hampered in their efforts to obtain gainful employment or are restricted in the activities in which they can take part long after they have paid their “debt to society.”

However, the effect of implementing House Bill 1107 would be that, in many instances, members of the public would be unable to determine an individual’s prior criminal convictions under circumstances where a decision might well turn on just that issue. Prospective employers, elderly citizens making home health care decisions, and parents choosing their child care provider, are just a few examples of categories of people who would not be sufficiently protected under House Bill 1107.

Additionally, while the proposed bill has carved out a number of exceptions for crimes that would not qualify for “sealing,” such as domestic violence crimes and sexual assault offenses, the proposed bill does not go far enough. There are a number of crimes that do not fall into the exceptions which, nonetheless, justifiably cause concern to the public.
These crimes include vehicular eluding and vehicular assault, burglary, identity theft, computer crimes, manslaughter, and certain weapons charges, to name a few.

In summary, I veto HB 07-1107. While I understand the arguments of the proponents, I must also balance those interests with the public’s right-to-know. In this instance, the public is best served by having more information in such circumstances, not less.

Sincerely,

Bill Ritter, Jr.
Governor

Sue Leonard said...

I am so disappointed that the governor would veto this bill. I believe that everyone deserves a second chance. The bill did not provide an automatic sealing of the felony's record. He/she would have to be approved by a judge after TEN YEARS of not commiting another crime. I think it would have help these individuals stay law abiding citizens.
I hope this bill will be revisited soon!

Sue Leonard, Parker