Prop. 102 is self-serving; vote ‘no’ | AspenTimes.com

Prop. 102 is self-serving; vote ‘no’

Dear Editor:

With all of the attention being given to the three most toxic state ballot initiatives (60, 61 and 101) it is easy to see how Proposition 102 has gotten overlooked.

This proposition is a thinly disguised attempt by the national bail bondsmen’s association, as well as its big insurance company backers, to statutorily ensure its members’ financial viability by denying pretrial services to any offender other than those arrested for a first-time misdemeanor offense. This proposition, which would limit judicial discretion to release defendants to pretrial supervision programs to protect public safety and assure court appearance, would force judges to add a monetary component to virtually every bail bond they set.

The Legislative Council Staff, the nonpartisan research arm of the Colorado General Assembly, states that because adding money to bail bonds increases the numbers of people who stay in jail awaiting their trial, the measure will cost local taxpayers at least $2.8 million per year in jail bed costs alone. In addition to the cost to local taxpayers, jail overcrowding is a safety concern for local jails as health and safety issues rise dramatically as inmate populations increase.

There is near-unanimous opposition against Proposition 102 from police, sheriffs, prosecutors, defense attorneys, county commissions, victims’ representatives, various public policy organizations, the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, and the Colorado Jail Association. All vigorously oppose this measure, which would seemingly only benefit the roughly 500 for-profit bail bondsmen in the state.

Pretrial supervision can be a safe and cost-effective alternative to jail for those awaiting trial. Pretrial services can provide neutral and objective information required to make an appropriate bail recommendation to the court by utilizing tools such as risk assessments and drug and mental health screening instruments. Pretrial supervision provides accountability for those awaiting trial, resulting in improved public safety and integrity of the judicial process. Pretrial supervision offers access to services such as substance abuse and mental health treatment, often resulting in diversion programs in lieu of prosecution, thereby decreasing jail populations, while bondsmen do not. Pretrial officers compile reports on those they supervise, noting compliance with conditions, while bondsmen do not. In fact, the for-profit bail bond industry provides little or no supervision of individuals awaiting trial at all.

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Proposition 102 is bad, self-serving legislation. Please vote “no” on 102.

Don Bird

Aspen

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