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 a statewide proposition to amend the criteria for setting bail passes, Boulder County law enforcement leaders fear the jail would become overcrowded, their costs would increase and the success rate for inmates would decline.
But supporters of Proposition 102 -- which would require a bond for anyone arrested unless it's a first offense and a nonviolent misdemeanor -- argue that its passage would keep dangerous criminals from being released and would make suspects more likely to appear in court.
Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle said the current system already keeps dangerous criminals from being released and lets others who have jobs and families and are not dangerous out of jail as long as they promise to appear in court. Those released on a personal recognizance bond -- which allows a defendant to go free without posting money up front -- can have court-ordered requirements to keep them from being a danger, such as sobriety monitoring and orders to stay away from victims or weapons.
Placing someone on monitored sobriety, for example, is likely in many cases to be more successful than keeping that person behind bars, Pelle said. And, he said, such pre-trial programs are cheaper than keeping people in jail.
Pelle said he's concerned Proposition 102 would hit low-income people the hardest, and he said many of the state's top law enforcement leaders believe the measure has been proposed as a moneymaker for bail bondsmen.
"It's a real shady thing when a private industry is able to use the political process to benefit their own pocketbooks," he said.
District Attorney Stan Garnett said Proposition 102 "takes away the flexibility that courts need to deal with cases individually."