Vote ‘No’ on Proposition 102
It’s rare that prosecutors and defense attorneys agree on a proposed legal change that would affect criminal defendants. It’s equally unusual when police chiefs, county sheriffs, victims-rights groups and organizations that advocate on behalf of prisoners all agree on a proposed piece of policy.
But when it comes to Proposition 102 on Colorado’s election ballot this year, all these groups have reached the same conclusion: The state’s voters should reject the measure.
Proposition 102 would effectively shut down pretrial-services programs in all but a few cases.
Ten counties in Colorado, including Mesa, have pretrial-services programs. These 10 counties serve more than 70 percent of the state’s population.
Pretrial services allow judges to let criminal suspects out of jail while they are awaiting trial and assign them to supervision by pretrial-services programs.
Staff members with these programs monitor defendants for drug and alcohol use, make home visits and ensure defendants attend scheduled court hearings. They also provide judges with information about defendants prior to bond hearings, recommending whether a defendant is a good candidate for monitoring by pretrial services.
Bail bondsmen dislike these arrangements because they reduce the number of defendants who might use the bondsmen’s services. Proposition 102 is being financed by national bail-bonds organizations and supported by some local bail bondsmen.
Proposition 102 would allow only first-time offenders charged with nonviolent misdemeanors to use pretrial services.
But those types of defendants are not likely to face large bail — if any. Pretrial services aren’t needed for most of them.
Pretrial services evaluate people facing felony, as well as misdemeanor charges. And there is no evidence to indicate people monitored by pretrial services are any more likely to miss court hearings or commit crimes than those out on bail.
However, if Proposition 102 is passed, it will cost taxpayers an estimated $2.8 million more a year because it will keep people in jail longer while they are awaiting bail, according to the Colorado Legislative Council’s Blue Book.
When the Colorado District Attorneys Council, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, County Sheriffs of Colorado, Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, victims’ and prisoner advocacy groups all say Proposition 102 is a mistake, Coloradans should listen.
Vote “No” on Proposition 102.