CCJRC Pushes Sentencing, Parole Reform

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CCJRC Pushes Sentencing, Parole Reform

[Following is a selection from an April 28 e-mail from the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.]

1. SB 318 heads to the House!

This morning, the Colorado Senate passed SB 318 (Gordon/Hefley) on third reading (on a vote of 29-6). CCJRC is actively supporting SB 318, which is quite similar to last yearâs SB 39, which passed both houses and was vetoed by Governor Owens. The governor has indicated that he will sign SB 318 if it reaches his desk.

What SB 318 does:
--Reduces felony classification for use of a schedule I or II substance from a class 5 felony to class 6.
--Reduces felony classification for possession of one gram or less of scheduled substances from a class 4 (schedule II) or class 3 (schedule I) felony to a class 6 felony.
--Reduces second-time possession of one gram or less from a class 2 to a class 4 felony
--Requires that any cost savings resulting from diverting offenders from prison be dedicated to substance abuse treatment. Cost savings are estimated to be $2.2 million after three years.
--Exempts possession of one gram or less from the two prior felony rule (currently, if you have two prior felony convictions, you are ineligible for probation without a waiver from the district attorney.
--In order to encourage redirection of funds to support treatment, all provisions of this bill will automatically repeal if the cost savings is not allocated to the Drug Offender Treatment Fund in FY 2005 and thereafter.

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2. Parole bills merged

CCJRCâs parole reform bill (SB 247) has been merged with Senator Kesterâs similar bill (SB 252) in order to reduce confusion over the two bills. SB 247 no longer exists (it was killed in Appropriations) and from now on we will be supporting SB 252, which contains all the provisions that were originally in SB 247. We expect SB 252 to be heard for second reading on the Senate floor tomorrow (April 29). Please call your senator and tell him/her to vote YES on SB 252 (see the end of this email for complete list of senators by district÷to find out what district you live in, visit ).

Talking points:

--Limiting reincarceration for a technical parole violation makes sense÷parole should be used to help people reintegrate into society, not to lengthen the time they serve in prison.

--When post-parole supervision was passed in HB 98-1160, there was no accompanying appropriation, despite a heated floor debate in the Senate. The Department of Corrections now estimates that implementing post-parole supervision will cost a minimum of $1.7 million in FY 2003-04. Itâs time to repeal this law.

--While technical violations may be indicative of a parolee who is having trouble, the response should not be to send someone back to prison. Intermediate sanctions are more conducive to successful reintegration and they cost less÷prison should be a last resort.

For more information on the legislation weâre tracking, visit CCJRCâs legislative session homepage at http://www.ccjrc.org/LS2003.html.

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