Newsbrief: Sentencing Reform Measures Moving in Colorado 5/9/03

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Last week, DRCNet reported on moves in Washington and other states to cut sentences because of budget pressures (http://www.drcnet.org/wol/285.html#washingtonreform). Colorado has now joined the list of states where fiscal crisis may yield sentencing reforms as well. In the last week of April, three bills -- one that would help people avoid prison, one would that shorten sentences for those sent to prison, and one that would help people avoid being sent back to prison -- passed key hurdles in committee.

Taken together, the three bills, if passed, would save the state nearly $10 million by 2005-2006, according to state legislative analysts. All three bills were approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 328, sponsored by Rep. Tom Plant (D-Netherland), would grant a small increase in "good time" for inmates serving sentences for nonviolent first offenses. Under the bill, good time would increase from 10 to 12 days per month. An inmate serving a one-year sentence would get out 3 ½ weeks early under the proposal. It now awaits action in the House Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 352, sponsored by Rep. Joe Stengel, would allow people who violate their parole for "technical reasons" to be sent to community corrections instead of back to prison. Technical parole violations are those in which no law is broken, only an administrative rule, such as missing an appointment with a parole officer or failing to report a change of address. One out of three parole violations are for technical violations, according to Stengel, who said the bill would save the state $7.7 million in the next two fiscal years.

And Senate Bill 318, sponsored by Rep. Lynn Hefley (R-Colorado Springs) would decrease penalties for possession of one gram or less of any controlled substance, giving judges the option to send a defendant either to probation, county jail or community corrections rather than prison. The bill has been sent to the full House for consideration.

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Issue #286, 5/9/03 Editorial: Time for Bill Bennett to Sit Down | DRCNet Interview: Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, Chairman, Canadian Senate Select Committee on Illegal Drugs | Canada Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Cases that Could End Marijuana Laws | Colombia: Pro-Legalization Governor among FARC Hostages Killed in Failed Monday Rescue Attempt | Bolivia Coca Conflict Heating Up Again | Oregon SWAT Raid Victims to File Suit | Tens of Thousands March Worldwide in Annual Million Marijuana March | Newsbrief: Bill "Mr. Virtue" Bennett Outed as Heavy Gambler | Newsbrief: Bush Twins Outed as Tokers by "That '70s Show" Star | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: Baltimore Grand Jury Calls for Regulated Drug Distribution to Addicts | Newsbrief: Sentencing Reform Measures Moving in Colorado | Newsbrief: Rhode Island Bill Allowing Eviction for Drug Possession on the Move | Newsbrief: Minnesota High Court Bars Suspicionless Consent Searches, Questioning of Motorists | The Reformer's Calendar
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