Proponents of a bill Colorado lawmakers are debating would place limits on whom law enforcement officers could arrest.
Those who oppose the bill voice concern about the possibility of increased crime.
A little background
In 2020, because of the pandemic, Colorado sheriffs limited bookings so as to minimize incidents of the coronavirus among those confined to jail. Prosecutors and judges followed suit. As a result, jail populations shrank by more than one-third. So, in March 2021, a bill that would limit arrests for lower-level crimes came up for debate among Colorado lawmakers.
About the bill
If the proposed bill passes, it will prohibit law enforcement officers from arresting people for certain misdemeanors and low-level felonies. In addition, judges would have to issue non-monetary bonds in many of those cases. The goal is to maintain a lower jail population by moderating the current rules for incarceration; in other words, to stop putting people behind bars who do not pose a danger to the public.
The bill includes exceptions for repeat offenders or for suspects who law enforcement officers believe might pose a threat. Police may also take into custody those suspected of assault, child abuse, manslaughter or vehicular homicide.
For and against
Proponents of the bill include defense attorneys and mental health professionals as well as families of people who committed suicide while jailed for minor offenses. Those against the passage of the bill argue that it does not take into account the effect of property crimes on the lives of the victims. Overall, however, the concern is that once made into law, the bill would lead to increased crime in Colorado communities.