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.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

CCJRC 2010 Legislative Update

Here’s an update on the bills that CCJRC is actively working on. 
We are thrilled to announce that HB 1352, a drug sentencing reform bill, was introduced yesterday by bi-partisan sponsors. This was a bill that CCJRC helped to develop as part of a drug policy task force of the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice. Two of our priority bills, HB 1023 and HB 1112, have already passed the House very strongly. We’ve also been very busy trying to amend or oppose a number of bills that would have created employment barriers for people with criminal records. So far, we have been able to amend one and help kill another. There are still three bills that we know of that will be introduced that related to sentencing or parole reform that we will be supporting. As soon as they are introduced, we will let you know.  When we are ready to have you start contacting legislators we will let you know.  If you are a member of an organization or community group that would like to sign on in support please let me know.
NEW HB 1352: Concerning Changes to Crimes Involving Controlled Substances
Sponsors: Representative Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs) and Senators Pat Steadman (D-Denver) and Shawn Mitchell (R-Broomfield) with cosponsors Representatives Pace (D-Pueblo), Court (D-Denver), Gardner B. (R-Colorado Springs), Gerou (R-Jefferson County), Kagan (D-Denver), King S. (R-Grand Junction), Levy (D-Boulder), Looper (R-El Paso), Massey (R-Poncha Springs), May (R-Douglas)
McCann (D-Denver), Miklosi (D-Denver), Nikkel (R-Loveland), Roberts (R-Durango), Ryden (D-Arapahoe), Stephens (R-Colorado Springs) and Senators M. Carroll (D-Aurora), Hudak (D-Jefferson), Morse (D-Colorado Springs), Newell (D-Littleton), Penry (R-Grand Junction), White (R-Garfield/Eagle).
This drug sentencing reform bill is based on recommendations approved by the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice. After reviewing the drug laws, practices, and research, the Commission concluded that drug laws and strategies would be improved by more clearly differentiating between those drug offenders who are primarily users and addicts from the more serious offenders who engage in the crimes of distribution, manufacturing and trafficking of drugs.
For those drug offenders who are primarily users and addicts, the Commission determined that intervention and treatment in the community would be a more effective use of resources than the current escalating system of punishment that often results in a prison sentence. For these offenders, it was recognized that the current structure and approach to prosecuting these drug crimes is frequently ineffective in reducing recidivism and curbing addiction and that a primary omission from current law is a means of assuring prompt and effective treatment of drug offenders.
The Commission also determined that penalties for several drug distribution offenses should be increased and that two provisions of the special drug offender statute should be clarified. 
What the Bill Does:
Drug possession offenses
·         Creates a separate statute for the crime of possession of drugs. 
·         Reduces the crime of drug use from a class 6 felony to a misdemeanor.
·         Redefines the quantity of drugs that is considered “simple possession” from 1 gram or less to 4 grams or less of a schedule I or II drug   and 2 grams or less of methamphetamine. “Simple possession” would be a class 6 felony.
·         Standardizes that possession for personal use of amounts greater than “simple possession” quantities is a class 4 felony.
·         Reduces possession of schedule III-V drugs (i.e. prescription drugs) to a misdemeanor.
·         Reduces the penalty for fraud and deceit in connection with controlled substances from a class 5 to a class 6 felony.
·         Requires cost savings from this bill to be evaluated annually by the division of criminal justice and reported to the legislature and that some of the cost savings will be allocated to expand and enhance substance abuse treatment.
If there is evidence that even small quantities of drugs are possessed with the intent to distribute, prosecutors can still file a criminal charge of drug distribution at any quantity of drugs.
Offenses related to marijuana
·         Redefines the quantity of marijuana possession that determines crime classifications at various levels including possession of under 2 ounces (petty offense), possession of between 2 – 6 ounces (class 2 misdemeanor), possession of between 6-12 ounces (class 1 misdemeanor), and possession of over 12 ounces (class 6 felony).
·         Redefines the quantity of marijuana concentrate possession that determines crime classification at various levels including possession of under 3 ounces (class 1 misdemeanor) and possession of over 3 ounces (class 6 felony).
·         Creates a graduated penalty for marijuana cultivation including cultivation of less than 6 plants (class 1 misdemeanor), cultivation of between 7-29 plants (class 5 felony) and cultivation of 30 or more plants (class 4 felony).
Increasing penalties for drug distribution
·         Creates a new crime of distribution of schedule I or II drugs by an adult to a minor (class 3 felony) and if the adult is more than 2 years older than the minor, imposes a mandatory minimum prison sentence.
·         Increases the crime level to a class 3 felony and imposes a mandatory minimum prison sentence for distribution (even without remuneration) of marijuana or marijuana concentrate by an adult to a minor less than 15 years old.
·         Increases the crime classification for distribution of ketamine (aka “date rape drug”) to a class 3 felony.
Clarifies two provisions within the Special Offender drug law (enhanced sentencing 8-48 years)
·         Requires the quantity of drugs to be greater than the “simple possession” amount to be considered importation of drugs into the state.
·         Enhances sentences when a deadly weapon is on a defendant's person or his within immediate reach, when a firearm is within the defendant's or confederate's access in a manner that posed a risk to others or when a firearm is in a vehicle the defendant was occupying.
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HB 1023: Concerning Clarifying Civil Liability Regarding Negligent Hiring Practices For An Employer That Hires A Person With A Criminal Record
Sponsors:  Representative Mark Waller (R) and Senator Evie Hudak (D); co-sponsors include Representatives Gagliardi (D), Kagan (D), Kefalas (D), Summers (R) and Senators Boyd (D), Sandoval (D), Scheffel (R), and White (R)
CCJRC Position: SUPPORT (priority)
Status: HB 1023 was passed unanimously out of the House and will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 1, 2010.
Description: CCJRC helped develop this bill which was endorsed by the Economic Opportunity and Poverty Reduction task force chaired by Rep. Kefalas. This bill would limit the admissibility of evidence of an employee’s criminal history in a civil action against an employer where the criminal history did not have a direct relationship to the underlying cause of action in the civil case, the criminal record was sealed prior to the acts underlying the cause of action, the criminal history consists of an arrest that did not lead to a criminal conviction, the conviction received a pardon, or the defendant successfully completed a deferred judgment. 
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HB 1112: Concerning the “Correctional Education Program Act of 1990”
Sponsors: Representative Miklosi (D) and Senator Newell (D)
CCJRC Position: SUPPORT (priority)
Status: HB 1112 was passed out of the House of Representatives 50-13 (2 excused) and will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 1, 2010.
Description:  This bill is the result of a report CCJRC issued in August 2009 that highlighted deficiencies in vocational programs offered in prison. In particular, CCJRC raised concerns that very few people in need of vocational programming actually received it while in prison, that many of the vocational programs offered do not provide training in skills that are marketable in today’s economy, that completion rates are unacceptably low, and that there is inadequate reporting of vocational program performance and cost by the Department of Corrections. This bill sets performance measures for vocational programs to include market-relevant training and mandates an annual report. 
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SB 06:  Concerning Reductions in Barriers to Obtaining Identity-Related Documents
Sponsors: Senator Boyd (D) and Representative Summers (R); co-sponsors include Senators Hudak (D), Sandoval (D), White (R) and Representatives Gagliardi (D), Kefalas (D), and Waller (R)
CCJRC Position: SUPPORT (priority)
Status: The bill was passed by the Senate on second reading on February 24, 2010 and will be have its third and final vote in the upcoming days. It will then go on to the House.
Description: This is another bill that is coming out of the Economic Opportunity & Poverty Reduction Task Force. CCJRC participated in this task force and was able to include some provisions that would impact people who were struggling to get identification documents after release from prison. Among other things, this bill would prohibit the state from charging a fee to obtain a birth certificate if referred by a state agency or county department of social services or human services. The bill would also restore, in limited circumstances, the authority of a district court to allow a person with a criminal record to legally change their name with notification to all necessary parties.
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HB 1082: Concerning Disqualification From School Employment For Conviction of Certain Offenses, And, In Connection Therewith, Enacting the “Felon-Free Schools Act of 2010”
Sponsors: Representative McNulty (R) and Senator Penry (R)
Status: HB 1082 was killed in House Judiciary on February 22, 2010.
Description: This is a similar bill to the one Representative McNulty introduced last year that CCJRC opposed and that was killed in the House Judiciary Committee. This bill would prohibit a school district or public school from employing as a nonlicensed employee a person who has a conviction for certain offenses, including any felony drug offense. The bill also amends existing mandatory disqualifications for licensed educators to include any conviction for a felony drug offense.  
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HB 1090: Concerning the Punishment for a Person Who Is Convicted Of Driving A Motor Vehicle With Knowledge That His Or Her Driver’s License Is Under Restraint
Sponsors: Representative Waller (R) and Senator Morse (D)
Status: HB 1090 was passed by the House on a vote of 57-6 (2 excused) on February 8, 2010. It will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 1, 2010.
Description: This bill would eliminate the mandatory 5-day jail sentence for a person who is convicted of driving a motor vehicle or off-highway vehicle upon any highway of the state with knowledge that his other license or privilege to drive is under restraint for any reason other than conviction of driving under the influence (DUI), driving while ability impaired (DWAI), or underage drinking and driving.  
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HB 1219: Concerning the Authorization For the Sale of Correctional Facilities Owned by the Department of Corrections
Sponsors: Representative Vaad (R) and Senator Penry (R)
Status: The bill was killed in the House Judiciary Committee on February 22, 2010.
Description: This bill authorizes the executive director of the Department of Corrections to sell by competitive bid the correctional facilities owned by the state. Under current law, private prisons may only house medium security or lower security inmates. The bill removes that limitation. This bill has been assigned to the House Judiciary Committee but has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.
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HB 1338: Two-prior felony rule
Sponsors: Representative Beth McCann (D)
Status: HB 1338 will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, February 25, 2010.
Description: This bill is based on a recommendation from the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice that would only apply the two-prior felony rule if one of the prior convictions or the current charge was for a crime of violence. The two-prior felony rule states the people who have two prior felony convictions cannot be sentenced to probation on a third felony conviction without consent of the district attorney. Under this bill, judicial discretion is restored.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

After reading the above i conclude its nothing but more of the same garbage thsats been coming out og the legislature and really does nothing much but makes mopre confusion about who has how many ounces of whatever.
Oncve more, pass a bill to get rid of mandatory parole. The legislature should not be increasing criminal sentences that were set by a judge and a mittimus was issued stating how long a person was to serve for a crime. The mandatory parole by the legislature is double jeopardy.
This buisness of hanging felonys on misdeameanor charges is horrible.