DENVER — Proposition 102 seeks to limit the circumstances under which a person accused of a crime can be released on bail in Colorado.
The citizen-initiated measure would prohibit the release of a defendant on an unsecured bond to supervision by a pretrial services program, unless they’ve had no prior offenses and are accused of a nonviolent crime.
Courts presently may order a defendant released on an unsecured bond. That means the defendant can be released from jail on a promise to appear at future court dates. If they fail to appear, they are liable for the bond amount.
Defendants obtain secured bonds either by paying, promising to pay through a commercial bail bondsman or posting an interest in property in order to be released from jail while they await trial.
Under current law, defendants released on either kind of bond can qualify for release to a pretrial services program. These programs assess a defendant’s risk to public safety and report that to the court in addition to monitoring a defendant's compliance with bond conditions through visits, drug testing and other measures.
Pueblo is among the Colorado counties where pretrial services are offered.
If Proposition 102 passes, pretrial services programs only would be an option for defendants who post secured bonds or those free on unsecured bonds who are accused of a crime for the first time, provided the charge they are facing is a nonviolent misdemeanor.
Legislative Council’s analysis of the proposition identified among its benefits the increased likelihood of defendants appearing in court if they are required to post a secured bond, and more effective use of the tax dollars that go to pretrial services.
The arguments against the proposition identified by Legislative Council include the effective track record to date of pretrial services and the advantage wealthier defendants would hold over poorer ones in the likelihood that they would be able to post bail.
Longer pretrial jail stays also would result. Legislative Council reported that defendants saddled with a secured bond on average take eight days longer to finance their bail than those with an unsecured bond. About 30 percent of defendants with secured bonds never make bail.
Consequently, Legislative Council determined, based on the state reimbursement rate to local jails of $50.44 per-person per-day, that the annual statewide cost for local jails beginning this fiscal year would increase by $2.8 million.