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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.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Jail Overcrowding in Weld County

Something different needs to be done. Weld County has a new wing opening in their jail in December and if you go by the numbers they will be full almost immediately. Different tactics need to be employed if the trend is going to stop. Build it and fill it is certainly not cost effective and it will continue to tax the citizens without creating anything to help people so that they revolving door will at least slow down.

In a community with a little less than 4,000 square miles of land and a little more than 400 beds at the jail, problems with space are bound to surface.

At the jail, there's not enough space, and in the county, there's too much.

Those factors are combining in a way that concerns many in Weld's criminal justice system: drunk drivers are not being taken off the roads.

A group of judges, attorneys, county officials and law enforcment shared their exasperation Thursday about how best to handle drunk drivers. Many were dismayed by the system's legal, budgetary and physical limitations.

Often in southern Weld, police officers who pull over drunk drivers are not arresting the offender, opting instead to give a summons -- a ticket.

In Weld County Judge Frank Henderson's estimation, that means 80 to 85 percent of people charged with driving under the influence do not go to jail.

In some cases, police are giving tickets to people with three, four or even 10 DUI arrests, said Weld County Magistrate Betty Strobel. She said police don't have the same information on hand that a judge would have when setting bond after an arrest.

What's more, if someone is never arrested, a judge does not have the legal right to set bond, even if the judge finds out the person has had multiple DUI arrests.

"I think they're a public safety issue," Strobel said.

Thursday's meeting was about jail crowding and current efforts to alleviate it. But Weld County's judges reiterated their belief that they'd rather see the jail make room for drunk drivers.

Henderson said he's more worried about those offenders than people cashing bad checks, for example, although that's a higher level crime.

"To me, frankly, someone who is sitting in jail on possession of a forged instrument (charges) because they're a meth addict is less of a threat to the community than someone who's got three DUIs," he said.
Greeley Tribune

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I understand that there are alot of people out there who continually choose to drink and drive but I can say that I made the mistake once as I let all the stresses in my life take over and one time I did the stupid thing of driving and drinking but believe me I know it was wrong and I do not intend to do the same twice but I do not feel that I should be locked up in a cell. Thsi does not solve the problem. It only intensifies the stress.

Anonymous said...

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