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 you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Prop. 102 would force defendents to pay to remain free before trial - The Denver Post

Prop. 102 would force defendents to pay to remain free before trial - The Denver Post

Colorado voters will decide this November whether to pass a proposal into law that would result in more criminal defendants having to put up cash to secure their pretrial release from jail.

Supporters say Proposition 102 will ensure defendants will be more likely to show up for court dates because their own money or their family's money will be at stake.

"They will have skin in the game, so to speak," said Mike Paul Donovan, a Douglas County resident who is pushing the proposal, and is a lobbyist for Seneca Insurance, which has a bail-bond division.

But a coalition of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and defense lawyers is urging voters to defeat the proposal.

Opponents say Proposition 102 is really a

carefully disguised plan to shore up the bail-bond industry. State officials say there are about 500 registered bail-bond firms in Colorado, and critics of the proposed proposition say the industry generates revenue in excess of $50 million annually in the state.

Proposition 102 prohibits the release of a defendant on an unsecured bond to supervision by a pretrial-services program unless that defendant was arrested for a first-offense nonviolent misdemeanor.

Under current law, judges have the option to require pretrial services for a myriad of defendants with an unsecured bond — essentially, a defendant's promise that they will show up in court.

Secured bonds require defendants or their families to pledge assets as a promise that they will comply with court appearances. If the defendant fails to show up, the assets are forfeited. Bail-bond firms receive revenue through secured bonds by charging up to 15 percent of the pledged assets and acting as an agent that assures the court that the defendants will comply with court appearances.

Donovan criticizes pretrial services as a publicly funded program that is wasteful and unnecessary.

"These programs are just not sufficient in getting people to return to court," he said.

The bail- bond industry has pushed similar legislation in other states without success. Proposition 102 marks the first time the industry has taken its case directly to voters.

Many prosecutors, law-enforcement officials, defense lawyers and other government officials defend the pretrial service programs, which are operating in the counties of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, Jefferson, Larimer, Mesa, Pueblo and Weld. Officials in El Paso County disbanded a pretrial program in 2008 to save about $267,000 annually.

Pretrial service programs are charged with assessing a defendant's risk to public safety and the likelihood they will show up for court. They also provide community-based supervision of defendants before their trials through drug treatment and other services.

Critics of the proposition predict its passage would cause costs to escalate, because indigent defendants wouldn't be able to afford the bonds and would end up staying longer in jail. Some of those who post the bonds also would end up having to seek representation from publicly funded lawyers, they add. Jails also would clog due to an increase in the time needed to process the additional bonds, they predict.

The Colorado Blue Book estimates the proposition would cost jails in Colorado $2.1 million more annually, a figure that supporters of the proposition dispute.

Read more: Prop. 102 would force defendents to pay to remain free before trial - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/election2010/ci_16314388#ixzz129L3BxmR

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