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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Guest Commentary: SB 186 will save money - The Denver Post

Guest Commentary: SB 186 will save money - The Denver Post

You want your kids to have better public schools? You want better roads but not higher taxes? You want the criminally accused to shoulder more of the financial burdens of the criminal justice system? Then get behind Senate Bill 186.

SB 186 would bring the Colorado judicial system in line with more than 25 states and the federal government. The bill would establish a "bond-to-the-court" bail bond option. And it would save the taxpayers a ton of money.

Approximately 50 percent of the inmates in our county jails are there not because they have been convicted and are serving sentences, but because they have not been able to pay a bail bondsman. Counties spend between $65 and $100 per inmate per day. By way of example, the Jefferson County jail currently houses some 1,140 inmates. Of those, 500 are pre-trial detainees. At a cost of $70 per day per inmate, that's $35,000 each night, $13 million per year. This, at a time when Jefferson County Public Schools is proposing $40 million in budget cuts for the 2011-12 school year. In Arapahoe County, there are 1,165 inmates, 49 percent of whom are pretrial, at $68.30 per day. You do the math — then get mad.

Our tax dollars are being flushed away every day in every county as we unnecessarily house people because they cannot come up with the scratch to enrich the insurance companies. The bail bond industry has the greatest sales leverage ever devised: Buy their bail bond policy or stay in jail. And if a citizen does pay the bail bond premium, how much do taxpayers get? Not a cent. All we get is the cost of housing people before trial if they don't make bail, and the costs of supervising them if they do make bail.

SB 186 changes all that. It allows but does not require judges to use their discretion to release a citizen before trial by paying a percentage of the cost of the bond to the judicial district of that county. And under SB 186, every time a judge grants a bond payable to the court, a piece of that fee is taken by the judicial district to help pay for pre-trial supervision, including appropriate pre-trial treatment. Remember: The judge can still set bail as high as he thinks necessary and can deny the bond-to-the-court option.

Read more: Guest Commentary: SB 186 will save money - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_17620837#ixzz1Gmq9yYeW
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Anonymous said...

Yep, this is a great and practical idea!

Katherine said...

Eighth amendment to the constitution: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

There are limits set for each felony for good reason. What would you think of a defendant given a half a million dollar bond? The first thing that comes to mind is a serial killer. (Not even close.) Certain judges DO abuse their authority to the point of despotism.

Gender bias is constantly rearing its patriarchal head each day.

Quote: "The judge can still set bail as high as *he* thinks necessary and can deny bond-to-the-court option."

There are no female judges as in s/he? We would do much better with far more feminine logic and compassion in the courts. Maybe then we will embrace law, as in excessive bail and equality, as genuine laws rather than abused concepts.

Greg said...

This is wrong thinking. You propose to change the way accused criminals bond out, but you offer little of how to pay for the added expense of having law enforcement investigate, locate, and then arrest those that thumb their nose at the court. Who pays for all that expense? Such social experiments as this have failed miserably in other jurisdictions. If it worked, I would be all for it. You decry insurance companies making a profit, but at what expense to our tax burden of those folks who decide not to show up in court?

Anonymous said...

this is going to be the worst bill in colorado history if it passes. Remember the story of the wolf in sheeps clothing. this is it. as i understand it the bail bond industry operates without tax payers dollars. So who is going to pay to monitor these individuals. who is going to keep track of the money used for the deposit bail. you are by your tax dollars. Take a look at Nebraska they have this system in place and have too expunge thousand of warrants every couple years because they dont have the time,funds to track these people down. I urge you to contact your house of representatives and tell them to vote NO on SB186.

Anonymous said...

All this does is open the door for the preferred cronies. Anyone with an "in" with the judicial districts (retired judges, PO's, etc...) will get a contract and become rich and all of the mom and pops from bail bondsmen to drug testers to counselors can now shut their doors. We must fight the statists.