• Safer Boulder

Senate Bill 21-062: A threat to public safety

Updated: Apr 9

NOTE: An update to SB21-062 was created in the form of a letter on 4/9/2021.

Senate Bill (SB) 21-062 threatens public safety in Colorado; please help Safer Boulder fight against SB21-062 by submitting a letter to your State Senator here.


Safer Boulder supporters have been working hard gathering information around SB21-062 and motivating Boulder citizens to oppose this bill in its current form. Concerned Boulder citizens have discussed SB21-062 with law enforcement officers, district attorneys, business owners, and crime victims, both in Boulder and beyond. We have consistently heard the following concerns:

  1. SB21-062 eliminates the consequences for most crimes. The proposed reforms of SB21-062 have already been informally tested with the restrictions on jailing due to COVID. During the pandemic, Colorado has seen increased crime, especially crimes like burglary and motor vehicle theft, which are included in the proposed legislation. With the closure of the jails, Boulder has experienced spikes in property crime and other class 4, 5, and 6 felonies. Offenders know the jails are closed. They know they will face minimal to no consequences. And the removal of cash bail will only further minimize the consequences.

  2. The bill does not include increased social support services to reduce reliance on jails and limit crime. Jail reform must be thoughtfully planned in tandem with improved support services such as accessible mental health care and additional access to drug addiction treatment programs.

  3. SB21-062 includes exceptions for offenses involving firearms, however, police encounter knives and blunt objects being used to victimize citizens more than firearms.

  4. The bill does not account for the trauma perpetrated on crime victims.

  5. SB21-062 does not differentiate between first time and repeat offenders.

  6. The bill takes away a valuable tool for cities and counties to keep communities safe and sustainable

The reduction of the jail population is an admirable goal, however, this generic and sweeping bill would have far reaching negative consequences, including in the most vulnerable populations of Colorado, which are victimized disproportionately. The authors do no appear to have considered the nuances of the issue or evaluated the potentially long term effect on safety in Colorado. This bill should be scraped in favor of a more thoughtful and balanced approach to jail reform, that also prioritizes the protection of public safety.

On March 5, 2021, a 3 to 2 vote moved SB21-062 out of the Judiciary Committee and into the Senate for consideration. Please click here to write to your senators and voice your opposition to SB21-062!


Additional resources:

SB21-062 A BILL FOR AN ACT CONCERNING MEASURES TO REDUCE JAIL POPULATIONS

Sponsors: Pete Lee (D) and Adrienne Benavidez (D)


BILL ABSTRACT

The bill gives a peace officer the authority to issue a summons and complaint for any offense committed in the officer's presence, or if not committed in the officer's presence, for any offense that the officer has probable cause to believe was committed and probable cause to believe was committed by the person charged, unless arrest is statutorily required or the offense is a crime of violence.


The bill prohibits a peace officer from arresting a person based solely on the alleged commission of a traffic offense; petty offense; municipal offense; misdemeanor offense; a class 4, 5, or 6 felony; or a level 3 or 4 drug felony unless:


A custodial arrest is statutorily required;

The officer is unable to sufficiently verify the individual's identity absent a custodial arrest;

The person was convicted for a violation of section 42-4-1301, Colorado Revised Statutes, in the previous 12 months; or

The offense is a felony or a victims' rights crime, the offense includes an element of illegal possession or use of firearm, the offense constitutes unlawful sexual behavior, or the offense is a violation a temporary or regular extreme risk protection order, a violation of a credible threat to a school, or a violation of eluding in a vehicle and:

The arresting officer records in the arrest documents a reasonable suspicion to conclude the person poses a threat to the safety of another, absent custodial arrest; or

The arresting officer records in the arrest documents a reasonable suspicion to conclude the person has indicated a clear unwillingness to cease and desist in criminal behavior, absent custodial arrest.


The bill prohibits a court from issuing a monetary bond for a misdemeanor offense; municipal offense; class 4, 5, or 6 felony; or level 3 or 4 drug felony unless the court finds the defendant will flee prosecution or threaten the safety of another and no other condition of release can reasonably mitigate the risk. The bill requires the court to issue a personal recognizance bond when the defendant fails to appear unless the defendant has failed to appear 3 or more times in the case. The bill requires the court to issue a personal recognizance bond in a failure to comply with conditions probation hearing unless it is based on a commission of a new crime.


The bill authorizes sheriffs to actively manage their jail populations in order to keep the population as low as possible while maintaining community safety, including the authority to establish jail admission standards that include offense-based admission standards that limit jail admissions.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)



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