Bipartisan legislation that takes steps to redefine
substance abuse as a public health concern rather
than a criminal offense makes sense for offenders,
families and taxpayers alike.
Colorado House Bill 1352, which passed the House
last week and is expected to be taken up in the
Senate today, contains two important elements:
> It realigns state law to fairly reflect what the
judicial system already has aimed to do - direct
drug offenders who are primarily users and addicts
to community intervention programs rather than to
jail or prison. The drug sentencing reform bill does
this by reducing the crime of drug use from a Class
6 felony to a Class 2 misdemeanor. If evidence
exists that even a small amount of drugs were
possessed with intent to distribute, prosecutors can
still file a criminal charge of drug distribution.
> And the legislation requires cost savings from
this bill to be evaluated annually by the Division of
Criminal Justice, which will file a report with the
state Legislature's Joint Budget Committee. The bill
requires the Legislature to appropriate savings
generated by the bill to the Drug Offender Treatment
Fund. Stakeholders will develop a plan for treatment
of substance abuse or co-occurring disorders to
ensure consistent treatment approaches.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010