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.

Monday, March 09, 2015

CCJRC Weekly Legislative Update - March 9th 2015

There was a flurry of new bills introduced this past week. CCJRC has not yet taken any formal positions on these new bills unless it is noted below.  On Wednesday, March 11th the Joint Budget Committee will set the FY15/16 budget for Community Corrections/Division of Criminal Justice and the Dept. of Corrections.  This is called “figure setting” and will ultimately be part of the state budget bill, known as the Long Bill.  The Long Bill then is voted on in both the House and Senate where amendments can be made.   There are also several bills scheduled for hearings this week. Stay tuned!

Bills Up in Committee This Week:

Mon. 3/9/15 – 1:30p - HB1240 (Reduce Student Contacts w/ Law Enforcement) in House Education
Tues. 3/10/15 – 1:30p - HB1087 (Medical Detox Pilots) in House PH&HS Committee
Thurs. 3/12/15 – 1:30p - SB184 (No Detention/Truancy) in Senate Education Committee

New Bills
HB15-1240 Reduce Student Contacts with Law Enforcement
Sponsors: Representative Fields (D)
House Education Committee – Mon. 3/9/15 at 1:30pm
Description:  Encourages each school district to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with law enforcement and sheriff’s departments to minimize unnecessary student contact related to disciplinary responses to school incidents.
HB15-1263 Criminal Record Sealing
Sponsors: Representatives Lebsock (D) and Tate (R)
CCJRC Position: Amend
House Local Government Committee – Wed. 3/18/15 at 1:30pm
Description: Would allow 1st conviction for a misdemeanor to be eligible for sealing after 5 years from completion of sentence and if no additional criminal charges have been filed.  There are some misdemeanor crimes that would not be eligible for sealing.  The bill would increase the waiting time to 5 years for a municipal conviction when the underlying factual basis was domestic violence.   There are now “dueling” record sealing bills – see HB 15-1061 described below.
Rationale for CCJRC’s position:  As introduced, the bill would only allow misdemeanor offenses to be sealable if the district attorney does not object.  After meeting with CCJRC and Colorado Criminal Defense Institute, Rep Lebsock has agreed to amend that provision out of the bill in committee.
HB15-1264 Homeless Persons’ Bill of Rights
Sponsors: Representatives Salazar (D) and Melton (D) & Senator Kefalas (D)
House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs - Wed. 4/8/15 – Upon adjournment
Description: Establishes certain protected rights for persons’ experiencing homelessness and allows a person whose rights have been violated to seek enforcement of said rights through civil action.
HB15-1267 Use of Medical Marijuana During Probation
Sponsors: Representative Salazar (D) & Senator Guzman (D)
Assigned to the House Judiciary Committee
Description: Makes an exception to probation conditions to allow a person on probation to possess and use medical marijuana, unless the person has a conviction related to medical marijuana. 
CCJRC Priority bills
Sponsors: Senator Merrifield (D-Colorado Springs) & Representative Lee (D-Colorado Springs)
CCJRC Position: Priority- Active Support

Status: Passed Senate Judiciary – Sent to Senate Appropriations (not yet calendared)

Description: SB 124 requires that parole officers utilize all available intermediate sanctions and community support services prior to filing a complaint for revocation with the Parole Board unless the nature of the technical violation and a parolee’s criminal history creates a high risk for re-offense.  Also allows the DOC to use short jail terms (no more than 5 days) as an intermediate sanction for a parolee who has had a pattern of technical violations instead of revocation. 

Rationale for CCJRC’s position:  Last year, almost 4,000 people were re-incarcerated for a technical violation of parole.  Evidence-based practice research indicates that effective responses to technical violations are sure, swift, and proportional – not severe, like revocation and incarceration back in prison. In September 2014, DOC began a “sure & swift” pilot program that prioritized using intermediate sanctions, including short jail terms.  The pilot has reduced the number of parole revocations and SB 124 will scale out this pilot statewide.

Hearing:  Amended and passed House Judiciary Committee – Up for 2nd Reading on House floor - 3/9/15

Description: Requires each presentence report given to the court in cases where a person may be sentenced to the Department of Corrections to include information about the estimated amount of time that s/he is expected to actually spend in prison, including consideration of potential sentence-reducing factors like earned time, parole and placement in community corrections.

Rationale for CCJRC’s position:  It is not possible to accurately estimate how much time someone is
likely to serve in prison because there are too many variables that affect time served that is not predicable.  Length of time in prison will be affected by the amount, if any, of earned time awarded, whether the person is accepted into community corrections, and whether or not the person is granted discretionary parole.   Because the estimate is not likely to be accurate, this would introduce inaccurate or misleading information into a judge’s consideration at sentencing which is inappropriate.  CCJRC and CCDI were able to get several amendments to the bill to address factual and legal inaccuracies but CCJRC still opposes the bill for the reasons cited above.

HB15-1061 No Record Sealing Municipal Domestic Violence
Sponsors: Representative Van Winkle (R) & Senator Roberts (R)
CCJRC Position: Oppose-Amend

Status:  House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on Tuesday, Feb. 3rd but laid the bill over for possible amendments. CCJRC would support an amendment that had a longer waiting period than 3 years for municipal domestic violence convictions that involved actual assault and battery. The bill was set for a hearing last week, but was pulled from the calendar. This bill is essentially tabled until Rep Lebsock’s record sealing bill is heard in committee.

Description: Would make all municipal cases ineligible for sealing if they involved any type of offense considered to be domestic violence.

Rationale for CCJRC’s position:  In 2013, legislation was passed (SB 13-123) that allowed people convicted of municipal level crimes to petition a district court to have that conviction sealed from the general public if 3 years or more had passed since the successful completion of the sentence and no new offenses had been committed.   A court had the authority to grant or deny the request based on a case-by-case review following a hearing and opportunity for objection by the DA, victim or other interested person. Information on the arrest/conviction of a sealed case would always be available to law enforcement, courts and other criminal justice agencies.  After a case was sealed, if the person was convicted of a new offense, the sealed case would automatically be unsealed.  CCJRC supported this bill in 2013 because of the significant collateral consequences that having a criminal conviction has on people finding work and housing.  CCJRC believes that current law has adequate “guardrails” to ensure that the court can consider all the evidence, including any objection, and make a decision based on a balancing test between the hardship the criminal record has created in finding housing and employment and the public interest in keeping the record unsealed.

HB15-1043 Felony Offense for Repeat DUI Offenders
Sponsors: Representatives Saine (R) and McCann (D) & Senators Cooke (R) and Johnston (D)
CCJRC Position:Oppose

Hearing: House Finance Committee–Wed. 3/18/15 at 1:30pm

Creates a class four felony for DUI if the violation occurred: (1) after 3 or more prior convictions for DUI, DWAI, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault or any combination thereof; or (2) after 2 prior convictions, the current violation included at least one of the following circumstances: (a) a minor was in the vehicle (b) the person caused damage or injury to property or person; (c) the person fled the scene; or (d) the person’s BAC was .15 or higher.  The bill also expands the timeline that a person must use an interlock device from one year to a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 5 years.The bill, as amended, would allow someone convicted of a misdemeanor DUI to be eligible for placement in community corrections as a condition of probation to access residential treatment.  Another amendment requires the court to “exhaust remedies” before sentencing someone to prison for a felony DUI.  The 5-year cost for incarceration alone is estimated to be between $19 - $42 million.

Rationale for CCJRC’s position:  CCJRC agrees that DUI and, especially DUI accidents and fatalities are a preventable tragedy and more needs to be done to prevent and reduce repeat offenses.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 1% of all DUI episodes result in arrest.  The National Transportation Safety Board reported that 71% of all alcohol-related fatalities were committed by a driver with NO prior convictions for DUI.  HB 1043 has no strategies to address the 99% of all DUIs that will not come into the criminal justice system because there was no arrest.  The current DUI treatment delivery system also is not as effective as it needs to be, including a much more robust capacity to address both alcohol addiction and co-occuring mental health issues that occurs in more than half of people with repeat DUI offenses.   CCJRC believes that HB 1043 is focusing on the highest cost – lowest impact strategy of just creating a felony and incarcerating several hundred people a year.  CCJRC does not unilaterally oppose the creation of a felony for serious repeat DUI offenses.  However, HB 1043 is not comprehensive and the research indicates that it will not have much effect, despite its tremendous cost.  CCJRC believes that comprehensive DUI reform is needed and needs to include strategies in prevention, treatment, law enforcement, public education, expansion of alternative transportation, and data collection.

Sponsors: Representative Vigil (D) & Senators Steadman (D) andJahn (D)
CCJRC Position: Support

Hearing: House Public Health Care & Human Services, Tuesday, 3/10/15 at 1:30pm

Description: This bill would create two medical detox pilot programs that would provide limited medical services to individuals addicted to alcohol or other substances who are detoxing. The pilot sites would consist of one rural and one urban substance abuse treatment center and last for 2 years. The pilot sites would be chosen through an application process through the Office of Behavioral Health.
The bill has a large fiscal note, up to $944,000 in Year 1 and $5.5 million in Year 2, and some of the contours of the bill may be changing due to the price tag. Keep your eyes out for a possible action alert on this bill urging lawmakers to support this once we learn more about what may be coming forward.

Rationale: Currently detox centers in Colorado operate a “social detox model,” meaning that little to no medical services are provided to individuals as they are withdrawingfrom alcohol and/or drugs. Hospitals may provide medical detox services, but detox centers are lacking this capability. The lack of medical services for individuals detoxing can lead to severe and painful withdrawal and in some extreme cases, death. It is extremely important for people to have the ability to safely withdraw from alcohol and/or drugs to help increase chances of sobriety and have a healthy recovery.

HB15-1122 Parole Application and Revocation
Sponsors: Representative Fields (D) & Senator Cooke (R)
CCJRC Position: Now neutral due to amendments made

Status:Passed Judiciary Committee – Up for 2nd reading on the Senate floor - 3/9/15

Description: Would make an inmate in DOC ineligible for adiscretionary parole hearing if the inmate: (1) had been convicted of a class I COPD within the past twelve months; or (2) has declined in writing to participate in programs that have been recommended and made available to him or her. The bill also makes other technical clarifications. CCJRC was able to successfully advocate for two amendments to this bill.  The first, deleted the provision that made someone in prison ineligible for parole if s/he was within six months of MRD/SDD.  The other, deleted the provision that would have given the parole board the authority to revoke for remainder any parolee who requests self-revocation

Rationale for CCJRC’s position:  Under current law, the length of time of re-incarceration when someone requests revocation would depend on risk level and crime of conviction.  For example, if someone was convicted of a nonviolent offense, the maximum period of re-incarceration would be 90 days if less than high risk or 180 days if high risk.  Current law only allows the parole board to revoke for remainder those convicted of a Crime of Violence.  The current framework is a better practice.  People struggling on parole who seek self-revocation should be provided with additional support and services, not re-incarceration.  CCJRC also objected to making ineligible for parole anyone whose next parole hearing is within 6 months of SDD or MRD.  Unless someone waives their parole hearing, s/he is entitled to be considered for parole regardless of whether they must be released from prison within six months.

Sponsors:  Rep Rosenthal (D) and Sen. Steadman (D)
CCJRC Position:  Priority Support (CCJJ recommendation)

Status: House Judiciary Committee – not yet calendared

Description: Under current law, a person sentenced as a habitual offender to serve a 40-calendar-year-to-life sentence before July 1, 1993 is not eligible for earned time. The bill permits those sentenced under those circumstances to be eligible for earned time.

Rationale for CCJRC’s position:  This issue was studied and recommended by the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.  There are approximately 72 people currently serving this sentence in prison in Colorado who have never been eligible for earned time regardless of good behavior and successes in educational, vocational or therapeutic programs.  Earned time is an important incentive to reward positive behavior and should be available to people serving these sentences too.

SB15-116 Needle Stick Prevention
Sponsors: Senator Steadman (D) & Representative Garnett (D)
CCJRC Position: Support

Status:PassedHouse Public Health Care & Human Services Committee

Description:  Would prohibit law enforcement from arresting someone for possession of a syringe (“drug paraphernalia”) or drug possession (if the syringe contained trace amounts of illegal drugs) if the person informs law enforcement prior to a search of their person, vehicle or personal belongings that s/he has a syringe.

Rationale for CCJRC’s position: Currently only individuals who are participants at syringe exchange programs are exempt from being arrested for possessing an injection device. CCJRC supports expanding this exemption to help reduce the amount of people being charged criminally for possessing a syringe. Criminalization of the syringe promotes improper syringe disposal and increases the amount of people involved with and engaged in the criminal justice system due to their drug use.

Sponsors: Senator Holbert (R) & Representative Fields (D)
CCJRC Position: Monitor (doing more research before taking a formal position)

Status: Senate Education Committee - Thursday, 3/12/15 at 1:30pm

Description: Removes juvenile court jurisdiction over truancy petitions aimed at students and their parents, except in certain circumstances, and gives jurisdiction over truancy cases to the office of the administrative courts.  There will be a “strike below” amendment that effectively would rewrite the entire bill.  CCJRC is reviewing the amendment now.

Sponsors: Senator Johnston (D) & Representative Fields (D)
CCJRC Position: Monitor (waiting to meet with bill sponsors before taking a formal position)

Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee

Description: Creates a community policing grant program to provide funding to local law enforcement agencies in conjunction with community-based organizations for innovative community policing practices. Tasks the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) to convene an advisory committee one year after grants are awarded to study the best practices used and outcomes of the grant program. The bill also requires each law enforcement agency, the Judicial Department, and the Department of Corrections to report specific data on race, ethnicity and gender related to stops, contacts, arrests, disposition of charges, sentencing, and parole hearings to the DCJ each calendar year. Data related to any officers involved in a shooting must also be provided to DCJ.

Other important criminal justice bills:
SB15-007 Community Corrections Board Standards
Sponsors: Senator Guzman (D) & Representative Willett (R)
CCJRC Position: Monitor  (CCJJ recommendation)
Status: Passed Senate Judiciary Committee – Sent to Appropriations
Description: Establishes who must serve on a community corrections board and creates trainings standards/requirements for Board members. Requires DCJ to create and implement training standards for all Community Corrections Board Members. DCJ must also create an evaluation tool to measure the use of evidenced based practices across Community Corrections programs. 

SB15-053 Standing Orders for Naloxone
Sponsors:Senator Aguilar (D) & Representatives McCann (D) and Lontine (D)
CCJRC Position: Support  (lead organization-Harm Reduction Action Center)
Status:Up for 3rd& final reading on the House floor – 3/9/15
Description: Would allow standing orders for naloxone so that first responders and direct service providers can distribute naloxone without a direct prescription. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that can reverse the effects of an overdose and potentially save someone’s life if administered in time.

SB15-058 Eyewitness Identification Policies and Procedures
Sponsors: Senator Guzman (D) & Representative Kagan (D)
CCJRC Position:  Support (lead organization: Colorado Criminal Defense Bar)
House Judiciary Committee – Thurs. 3/19/15 at 1:30pm
Description: Requires all law enforcement agencies in Colorado to adopt policies and procedures related to eyewitness identification to comply with peer-reviewed, evidenced- based practices. 

HB15-1091 Policies on Juvenile Shackling in Court
Sponsors: Representative Lontine (D) &Senator Merrifield (D)
CCJRC Position: Support (lead organization: Colorado Criminal Defense Bar)
Hearing:Passed out of the House
Description: Requires each Judicial District to create an appropriate and evidenced-based policy regarding the shackling of juveniles in the courtroom.

Sponsors:Representative McCann (D) & Senator Martinez Humenik
CCJRC Position: Monitor
Hearing: Assigned to House Judiciary
Description:Creates a Class 4 felony for threatening or retaliating against or harassing a prosecutor.

Bills that have been postponed indefinitely (died):
SB15-006 Prohibit Forfeitures Without Criminal Conviction
Sponsors: Senator Woods (R) & Representative Saine (R)
CCJRC Position: 

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