Proposition 102 - Criteria for Release to Pretrial Services Programs Question

By: KKCO Email
By: KKCO Email

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) - All registered voters are eligible to vote yes or no on the following proposition.

Proposition 102 (STATUTORY)
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Revised Statues requiring that only defendants arrested for a first offense, non violent misdemeanor may be recommended for release or actually released to a pretrial services program’s supervision in lieu of a cash, property, or professional surety bond?

NOTE: Ballot issues referred by the general assembly or any political subdivision are listed by letter, and ballot issues initiated by the people are listed numerically. A ballot issue listed as an “amendment” proposes a change to the Colorado constitution, and a ballot issue listed as a “proposition” proposes a change to the Colorado Revised Statues. A “yes” vote on any ballot issue is a vote in favor of changing current law or existing circumstances, and a “no” vote on any ballot issue is a vote against changing current law or existing circumstances.

Analysis of as Proposition 102 (Criteria for Release to Pretrial Services Programs) offered by the 2010 State Ballot Information Booklet or Voter Blue Book.

Proposition 102 proposes amending the Colorado statutes to:
- prohibit the release of a defendant on an unsecured bond to supervision by a pretrial services program unless that defendant is arrested for his or her first offense that is also a nonviolent misdemeanor.

Summary and Analysis:
In the United States, an individual accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Most defendants have the right to be released on bail that is not excessive rather than remaining in jail pending the outcome of a trial.

However, some serious crimes are not bailable offenses under Colorado law, including murder, kidnapping, and treason. In addition, persons arrested for a violent crime who have been previously convicted of a violent crime, or who are out on bail for a violent offense, are also not eligible for bail.

Definition of bail and bond. After an individual is arrested, the court sets the amount of bail, the type of bond, and any other conditions of release. The primary purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant appears for trial. A bond is an agreement between the defendant and the court under which the defendant agrees to comply with all of the conditions of release and to pay the bail amount if he or she does not appear in court.

The court may order one of two types of bonds, unsecured or secured. With an unsecured bond, the defendant is released on his or her promise to appear, but is required to pay the bail amount if he or she does not appear in court. With a secured bond, the defendant either pays, or promises to pay through a commercial bail bondsman, an amount of money or interest in property before he or she may be released from jail pending trial.

Although there are judicial district guidelines for setting bail, the court has the discretion to set the amount of bail and type of bond on a case-by-case basis after considering criteria set forth in law.

If the defendant cannot afford to pay the bail amount, he or she can pay a fee to get a bond through a commercial bail bondsman, secure a bond using real estate, or remain in jail. In addition to financial conditions, the court may order any number of other conditions of release, which could include supervision by a pretrial services program.

Pretrial services programs. Under current Colorado law, most defendants qualify for release to supervision by a pretrial services program on either a secured or unsecured bond. There are ten pretrial services programs that are publicly funded and serve over 70 percent of the state's population. The programs are located primarily along the Front Range, with the exceptions of Weld, Pueblo, and Mesa counties. Pretrial services programs provide two primary functions. First, they assess defendants and provide information and recommendations to the court regarding the defendant's risk to public safety and the likelihood that he or she will appear in court. The court uses this information in setting the defendant's amount of bail and type of bond.

Second, pretrial services programs provide community-based supervision to monitor defendants prior to trial through various methods, such as periodic visits with the defendant, drug testing, and substance abuse treatment.

Failure to comply with the pretrial services conditions may result in the defendant being returned to jail while awaiting trial.

Proposition 102. Currently, the court may release the defendant to supervision by a pretrial services program on an unsecured or secured bond. Under Proposition 102, the defendant may only be released to a pretrial services program on an unsecured bond if the offense for which he or she has been charged is his or her first offense and is also a nonviolent misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a crime, less serious than a felony, punishable by a fine and a term of imprisonment in a city or county jail as opposed to a state prison. In all other cases where the defendant receives pretrial services, the court must order a secured bond. This measure does not prohibit the court from releasing the defendant on an unsecured bond without pretrial services.

Argument For:
1) Guaranteeing that all criminal defendants are tried in a court of law is a fundamental part of our justice system. Requiring a secured bond from individuals accused of crimes provides an added incentive for them to appear in court, where victims have the opportunity to confront the accused. Taxpayer money is invested in pretrial services programs to ensure that defendants face trial. Therefore, it is appropriate to expect the defendant's own money to be invested in his or her promise to appear, especially when he or she is charged with a violent or sexual crime.

Argument Against:
1) Proposition 102 is unnecessary because pretrial services programs have proven to be an effective method of supervising defendants and ensuring that they appear for trial. The measure also unfairly burdens the poor because it will likely result in poorer defendants being jailed while awaiting trial and wealthier defendants being released, even if the defendants have been charged with the same type of crime. Currently, pretrial services programs address this inequity by providing conditions of release that may be met regardless of the financial circumstances of the defendants. Under Proposition 102, defendants who would be released to pretrial services programs but who cannot afford a secured bond will remain in jail awaiting trial at a greater cost to taxpayers.

Estimate of Fiscal Impact:
The measure will increase the time spent in jail for defendants who need to obtain financing for a secured bond or for those defendants who cannot obtain financing and must remain in jail until trial. Based on the state reimbursement rate for local jails of $50.44 per person per day, it is estimated that the measure will increase the annual statewide cost for local jails by about $2.8 million beginning in budget year 2010-
11. There are two driving forces for this increase. National data indicates that it takes about eight days for defendants with a secured bond to obtain financing for release as opposed to those who are released immediately on an unsecured bond. Additionally, about 30 percent of defendants with a secured bond never obtain the financing to secure release.

This increase in demand for local jails could result in a need for building additional jail beds in the future. The measure may decrease the need for or the use of pretrial services programs, and the money that was previously used to fund those programs could be used to offset a portion of the additional jail operating costs.


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