March 20, 2019

Denver CO – The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 3-to-2 to pass SB19-143, a bill from Senator Julie Gonzales (D-Denver) and Pete Lee (D-El Paso County) to increase public safety, reform parts of the Colorado parole system, and improve inmate reintegration. The bill passed with the support of the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC), and now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Nearly 9,000 Colorado inmates, almost half of Colorado’s entire prison population, are eligible for parole but remain in prison. The Colorado DOC vacancy rate should be kept between two and five percent to maintain a safe environment for inmates and staff; yet, as of January 31, vacancy was at just .7 percent. SB19-143 seeks to address these crises by allowing low-risk individuals who meet certain eligibility criteria to be submitted to the parole board for review.

“As a longtime advocate for an effective criminal justice system, I take great pride that this legislation will reduce our prison population and provide needed supportive services to facilitate reintegration of prisoners into society” said Senator Lee. “This bill will  bring critical reforms to our state’s parole system.”

“Our criminal justice system needs to focus on rehabilitation, not just punishment,” said Senator Gonzales. “Giving people a second chance is how they can once again become productive members of our society, and I am excited that these changes to our parole system are in motion.”

Currently, certain prison population measures can be used when vacancy rates drop below two percent. This legislation would change the rate to three percent. Furthermore, it would allow an inmate released from prison without supervision the right to access reentry services for up to one year from their date of discharge to prevent recidivism.

For more information on this bill please visit: http://leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb19-143.

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