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.
Yet another dog of an issue on the state ballot this year, Proposition 102 is sponsored by the bail bonds industry and will benefit pretty much no one at all, except for those who make money in the bail bonds industry.
The Camera editorial board joins just about everyone (except for those in that particular industry) in saying "no" to Proposition 102.
Judges in Colorado set the amount and type of bond suspects must pay. Proposition 102 would "prohibit the release of a defendant on an unsecured bond to supervision by a pretrial services program unless that defendant is arrested for his or her first offense that is also a nonviolent misdemeanor."
In other words, it would take away the power of Colorado counties to manage any pre-trial supervision programs, and hand a large number of them over to the profit-driven companies that deal in bail bonds. Not that there is anything wrong with profits -- until those profits are used to pass a law to line an industry`s wallet at taxpayer expense.
The nonpartisan legislative staff determined that the measure would likely cost Coloradans at least $2.8 million more per year in incarceration costs.
Pre-trial programs run through the counties keep people out of jail. Our justice system decides which suspects pose a considerable risk, and who could be managed through professionally run pre-trial supervision. So a suspect may have to stay in jail. Or require the services of an insured bail bondsman. Or could be released on an unsecured bond, with a drug monitoring requirement. It`s up to the judge.
As Sheriff Joe Pelle put it: "The result is that the jails are less crowded with pre-trial defendants who cannot afford bail, the community remains safe, and the savings to taxpayers is huge. These defendants can continue to work, make their payments, support their families, and stay off of government provided benefits."
Under Proposition 102, a significant number of suspects would instead be forced into the offices of the bail bond sellers. If they cannot afford it, they will go to jail to be housed and fed at our expense instead.
And at the risk of being redundant, we would appreciate a measure that would make it harder for small, well-funded special interest groups to fiddle with Colorado ballots in the best cases, or amend our state Constitution and statutes in the worst.
Proposition 102 is a bad idea far outshadowed by the worst ideas in 2010: The "bad three" Amendments 60, 61 and Proposition 101. All of these measures would all come at a dear price to Coloradans, if passed. We need to make it harder for people with wild, costly ideas to use our lax ballot procedures to their advantage.