Proposition 102 on the Colorado ballot is about a lot of things; but more than anything, it is about money.
The proposition, if passed, would benefit the private bail bonds industry - its leading proponent - by requiring courts to prevent the release of most people arrested on unsecured bonds under the supervision of pretrial services. If secured bonds are required, defendants often turn to the bail bonds industry for those services.
But this issue is also about the money it could cost local taxpayers.
Proposition 102 speaks to local residents, in particular, because Larimer County is one of 10 Colorado counties that use a pretrial services program, in which judges can release suspects without a secured bond. Pretrial services assesses each defendant and makes recommendations that include alternatives to incarceration while a defendant is awaiting court action, including counseling, home visits, drug testing, telephone contacts, mental-health or substance-abuse treatment and home-monitoring devices. The idea behind using pretrial services is two-fold: It allows many defendants the opportunity to continue working while in the court system, and it saves the county by not requiring defendants to spend that time waiting in jail.
The Larimer County Sheriff's Office said that, if passed, Proposition 102 could cost the county in excess of $5 million annually. The sheriff's office said accommodating the new requirement would mean an additional 37,926 bed days or 114 beds. At a minimum, the sheriff's office estimates, the increased number of inmates would require the county to hire 12 additional deputies and another nurse and to pay for additional food and other operating costs.
Another concern with Proposition 102 is that those defendants who cannot afford to post a bond may stay in jail longer than those who can afford to bond out.
Proposition 102 offers a blanket solution on a statewide basis when programs, such as in Larimer County, may be cost effective and efficient. This is an issue much more appropriately decided by local voters than a statewide ballot initiative.
Vote no on Proposition 102.
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.
Monday, October 18, 2010