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.
Not every trip to jail is planned. For those wild nights, there's a kiosk at the La Plata County jail where jailbirds can swipe a card and go free.
"It's just giving people a few more options," said Capt. Michael Slade with the Sheriff's Office. "I don't know why it is, but people just don't want to enjoy our hospitality if they can avoid it."
It used to be that prisoners had two options for posting bail: call a bail bondsman or arrange for a friend or family member to bring cash or a certified check to the jail.
Now prisoners can use a credit card or debit card.
People often have a credit or debit card when they are arrested, said Sgt. Holley Ezzell.
"We are seeing an increase in inmates coming in and using a credit card to bond themselves out," Ezzell said.
The kiosk was installed in August to relieve jail deputies from having to deal with large sums of money and allow them to focus more on inmates, Slade said.
Some bails cost $5,000 or more, which is a lot of cash to have on hand. And the more cash in hand, the greater the risk of it being lost or miscounted, Slade said.
Before installing the kiosk, deputies had to make bank runs twice a week. Now they go to the bank once every other week.
The kiosk also takes cash. It can hold up to 1,200 bills and accepts all denominations from $1 to $100 bills.
It is owned by EZ Card & Kiosk LLC, which empties the machine twice a week. The company did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Kiosk customers are charged a $10 service fee plus 7 percent of the bail amount. If the bail is more than $2,000, the $10 fee is waived. By comparison, bondsmen typically keep 10 to 15 percent of the bail.
"The bondsmen were pretty upset about this to begin with, but we really haven't seen a decrease in the surety bonds," Ezzell said, referring to the promissory bonds inmates pay bondsmen if they can't afford the entire bail amount.