Like many states, Colorado is taking steps to ease prison sentences and lighten the budgetary burden. According to the Denver Post, Governor Ritter is signing several bills into law today that will focus more on rehabilitation and treatment, freeing up estimated millions typically spent on incarceration.
The bills are mostly a result of the Governor’s Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, a group of attorneys, law enforcement, and other legal officials. While the bills have several impacts, it seems lowering penalties for drug possession charges is the pinnacle.
HB 1352 boosts the amount of drugs required before a person faces mandatory jail time. This means that when caught in possession, you will be more likely to be diverted to a treatment program or other community option rather than jail time.
In addition, there are bills that will make parole easier for inmates to get and lessen penalties for parole violations. The hope here, again, is that the state will be able to better balance spending with community safety.
Of course, critics state these bills put the public at risk and such sacrifices shouldn’t be made. However, in the most incarcerated country in the world, perhaps it’s time lawmakers consider alternatives to the “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” method.
The fact is, a person with a drug problem who is sent to prison without addressing his addiction may be more likely to reoffend than someone who bypasses prison and is sent to treatment. An added benefit: the saved cost of incarceration.
If you are facing charges and unsure of the penalty you may face or if these new law changes affect you, contact us today. Even if your crime was committed prior to the passing of these bills, we can discuss your case and your options.