A sentencing-reform bill on Gov. Bill Ritter’s desk will shift the focus for some drug offenders in Colorado from punishment to treatment.
House Bill 1352 also would mandate savings expected to be incurred from fewer criminals spending time behind bars be used to pay for rehabilitation treatment programs and efforts.
The proposal lowers penalties for those facing charges for use or possession of drugs but increases consequences for anyone who deals drugs to children.
“In terms of those who have possession-related offenses, evidence-based practices have shown that warehousing them does not solve the problem,” said bill sponsor Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs. “The reason I ran House Bill 1352 was to put more dollars toward treatment in order to reduce the recidivism that is all too common in the system. It’s just a better use of our resources to treat the addiction problem as opposed to just putting them in jail.”
Passing through both the House and Senate with widespread support, the bill is seen as a positive step toward saving bed space in jails and prisons. The bill will likely be signed by Ritter this week and will go into effect in August.
According to a legislative fiscal note analyzing the impact of the bill, the Department of Corrections is expected to save more than $54 million during the next five years.
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, May 25, 2010