These are all of the Law Enforcement and Corrections bills proposed in the 2018 session. Each bill has its own bill number, please use your browser search feature to find the bill you are interested in. Return to the Colorado home page to pick a different bill category.

None of the text is the opinion of Engage. Each bill's description, pros, and cons are our best effort at describing what each bill does, arguments for, and arguments against the bill. If you believe we are missing something, please contact us with your suggestion. Some of these bills have the notation that they have been sent to the chamber's "kill" committee. This means that the leadership has decided to send the bill to the State committee even though it does not belong there based on its subject matter. This committee, in both chambers, is stacked with members from "safe" districts and the idea is to kill the bill without forcing any less safe members to take a hard vote. It is possible for a bill to survive the kill committee, but it is very rare.

Each bill has been given a "magnitude" category: Major, Medium and Minor. This is a combination of the change the bill would create and the "controversy" level of the bill. Some minor bills that are extending current programs would be major changes if they were introducing something new, but the entire goal here is to allow you to better curate your time. Something uncontroversial likely to pass nearly unanimously that continues a past program may not be worth your time (and please remember, you can still read all of the minor bills!).

HB18-1055: Increase Surcharge for Court Security Cash Fund

Increases surcharge on a variety of docket and filing fees in the legal system from $5 to $10 for court security. The additional $5 will go directly to the court that assessed the surcharge (currently all money goes into the general account and is distributed from there).

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Pros

This bill eliminates the need for the state to subsidize security and more accurately distributes the funds to the courts that are more active. The increase is small and should not affect anyone’s ability to use the court system.

Cons

This change may have the unintended effect of encouraging more actions within a court system that will require application of the fee. We have seen multiple examples of law enforcement and court systems funding themselves by fleecing the community. Current law protects against this risk by not directly rewarding the court that collected the fee.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1055

HB18-1058: Financial Assistance for County Jails and Courts

From County Courthouse and County Jail Funding and Overcrowding Solutions Committee. Add jails to the underfunded courthouse facility fund and allows grants to be issued up to 50% of a county’s annual voter-approved debt service on any county approved financing of construction or remodeling of facilities. Also creates a low interest loan program for construction or remodeling of facilities.

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Pros

While the ultimate responsibility for these facilities falls to local governments, failures here affect all of us. The omission of jails from the original fund was an error, jails and courts go together and a failure in funding for one affects both. The additional state funds available in grants and loans will help local governments get a better handle on this situation.

Cons

This takes $30 million dollars from the state’s general fund and puts it toward projects that local governments are supposed to pay for. It is not fair for residents who live in a county that has taken care of its responsibilities to have to pay for other counties that have not.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1058

HB18-1061: No Encryption of Dispatch Radio Communications

Requires all state and local government entities to broadcast dispatch radio without encryption so it can be monitored by commercially available radios except for tactical or investigative communications in certain circumstances. Furthermore, the government must make its broadcast channels publicly available and indicate which ones are encrypted. The bill adds a 3 degree misdemeanor crime for monitoring radio communications for criminal purposes.

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Pros

Historically these types of radio communications have been available to the public, and the news media in particular has relied on them for reporting leads. Advances in technology have eroded this setup. The government should function in an open manner whenever possible and this bill protects against legitimate needs to encrypt communications.

Cons

Technology cuts both ways. You can now download free scanner apps on your phone, and the Pueblo police cited specific examples of criminals using apps to evade police in vehicular pursuits and avoid officers altogether when it announced it was encrypting its radio communications last year. Pueblo is sharing its codes with media, so it is possible to create a law that allows media to perform its duties without giving criminals the keys to the store. The exceptions in the bill are simply inadequate for day-to-day police operations.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1061

HB18-1076: Peace Officers Standards and Training Board Revoke Certification for Untruthful Statement

Requires the police officer board to revoke certification if the officer made an untruthful statement or omitted a material fact on an official document or while testifying at on official judicial proceeding or during an internal affairs investigation and the board completes a determinative administrative process verifying the falsehood or omission.

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Pros

Too often law enforcement looks after its own behind the “blue wall” which can lead to bad cops avoiding punishment or even detection for falsifying paperwork or lying under oath, acts that are frequently done to cover up other misdeeds. This bill creates a process to rectify this situation.

Cons

This ties the hands of disciplinary boards and forces a one-size fits all punishment, something we as a society are trying to move away from when it comes to sentencing criminals, the people police officers work so hard to keep from harming us. One small error should not be treated the same as an elaborate lie.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1076

HB18-1110: Colorado Constitutional Right

Prohibits state or state agencies or any employee acting in an official capacity from assisting or aiding a federal agency in arresting a Colorado citizen or person lawfully present in Colorado from engaging in an act that is a Colorado constitutional right or violating the Colorado constitutional right of a Colorado citizen or person lawfully present in the state.

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Pros

This prevents state agencies from aiding the federal government in any attempt to crackdown on marijuana usage in the state. Given the noises coming out of the Attorney General’s office, this may be needed now to prevent Colorado citizens from being unable to exercise their rights.

Cons

The constitution is very clear: federal law trumps state law. Over and over again states have tried to ignore or nullify federal laws and over and over again we’ve come to the same conclusion: this is not allowed in our constitutional system. So this bill won’t stand up to any sort of judicial scrutiny.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1110

HB18-1184: Create Next Generation 911 Board

Creates a board to lead the planning and implementation of a sustainable next generation 911 service. The board can accept gifts, grants, and donations to accomplish this, and there are federal grants available.

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Pros

Next generation 911 is a critical upgrade needed to create a faster, more flexible, resilient, and scalable service to keep up with technologies used by the public.

Cons

This all sounds great, but the reality is that the infrastructure needed to make this system work just isn't there yet. Wireless carriers haven't made the needed changes to their systems. And all of this is going to cost a lot of money in systems upgrades. Let's not have Colorado bear the brunt of being an earlier adopter.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1184

HB18-1273: Protect Colorado Residents from Federal Government Overreach

Prohibits the state from providing the race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious affiliation to the federal government without determining that it is for a legal and constitutional purpose. Prohibits the state for assisting in any creation of a registry based on that list of identifiers. Prohibits the state from assisting in placing physical or electronic identifiers on a person based on the same list of qualifications. Prohibits the state from assisting in the detainment or arrest of a person based on the same list.

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Pros

History has demonstrated that demonization of communities leading to internment camps and the deprivation of human, constitutional, and civil rights is often rooted in the overreach of federal policies. We are less than 100 years removed from the mass detainment of Japanese-American citizens during the Second World War. This bill ensures that the state will not participate in any of these types of activities.

Cons

Immigration is handled by the federal government, not by the states. The state cannot refuse to participate in the immigration policies of the federal government because it does not like them. This would be just as true of a state trying to deport people against the wishes of the federal government. We in fact already have registries of people based on their immigration status. We need them, to determine who is here in this country legally and who is here illegally. As for arrest, it is a crime to be in this country illegally. We have a whole set of laws relating to people who actively aide criminals, and this bill in effect would the entire state of Colorado an accessory.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1273

HB18-1404: Peace Officer Internal Investigation Open Records

Makes the internal investigation file of a police officer for in-uniform or on-duty conduct that involves a member of the public subject to an open records request. On-going criminal cases can be denied until the case is complete and all personal identifying information (like Social Security numbers), as well as identifying information for confidential informants, alleged victims of sexual offenses, and juveniles, personal contact information for the police officer, medical or mental health information, witness contact information, and a few other things will be redacted.

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Pros

This is all about sunshine. As it stands now, the police investigates itself, decides on its own internal punishment, and gets to keep all of that information from the public. It’s far too often the case that police officers can hop from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, doing a poor enough job in each spot to warrant never working in field again, simply because there is not enough sunshine on their employment history. This bill simply makes sure that the public can obtain the results of an investigation, with reasonably redacted information, so someone is watching the people empowered with awesome responsibilities in our society.

Cons

There are good reasons we allow the police to investigate themselves and it’s not like it’s buddies checking in on each other. An entire division is dedicated to the task and they take their jobs seriously. Only someone trained as a police officer can understand how the sometimes conflicting responsibilities to protect citizens from each other and police from citizens can interact in a job where the expectation is you do it perfectly every time.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1404

HB18-1410: Prison Population Management Measures

Requires department of corrections to track prison bed vacancy and if it falls below 2% for 30 straight days, to notify various state agencies. This can trigger a hunt for unutilized community corrections beds and quick file review of inmates within 90 days of their mandatory release date who do not require full parole review or victim notification as well as quick review of inmates who have conditional parole approval and again do not require full board review or victim notification. Department is also required to notify various state agencies if their vacancy rate is over 3% for 30 straight days.

SIGNED

Pros

The state runs at near full prison capacity a lot of the time, so it makes sense to act when a particular facility is running very tight or a little more open so the system can be better managed. If someone is going to be most definitely out of jail in a month, keeping them there and tying up a bed we need for someone else isn’t doing anyone much good.

Cons

Time served is supposed be time served, not congratulations, we needed your bed so you didn’t have to pay your full debt to society. Even though we are talking about 90 days, that’s still three months of time someone was supposed to do. If we need more beds, build more prisons.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1410

HB18-1417: Protect Constitutional Rights Colorado Residents

Prohibits law enforcement agencies from detaining people for ICE or providing notifications of release time to ICE without a court order. Prohibits renewal of intergovernmental service agreements with ICE and any new agreements. Requires local law enforcement to tell any individual their rights prior to an interview with ICE: that they have the right to deny the request. Also requires the department of human services to develop policies that ensure that public schools, state-funded colleges, public libraries, public health facilities, shelters, courthouses, probation offices, and criminal court-ordered class or treatment facilities are accessible to all residents regardless of immigration status.

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Pros

ICE is out of control, as multiple recent stories have indicated. When illegal residents fear going to hospitals or police, everyone’s public safety suffers as crimes go unreported and injuries and illness go untreated at earlier stages. There is already a large backlog of immigration deportation cases and federal agents are already supposed to prioritize illegals who commit crimes over others. So-called sanctuary cities do not protect illegals who commit crimes, so not turning people over to ICE isn’t materially affecting the immigration system in this country.

Cons

This makes Colorado a sanctuary state, Immigration is handled by the federal government, not by the states. The state cannot refuse to participate in the immigration policies of the federal government because it does not like them. This would be just as true of a state trying to deport people against the wishes of the federal government. It is also a crime to be in this country illegally. We have a whole set of laws relating to people who actively aide criminals, and this bill in effect would the entire state of Colorado an accessory.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on HB18-1417

SB18-014: Department Of Corrections Disclose Location of Out-of-State Inmate

Requires the Department of Corrections to notify both the prosecuting attorney and any registered victim if an inmate is transferred to another state within 48 hours of the relocation and provide the name and location of the facility. This requirement would not apply if the inmate is a witness and the department determines the notification would present a safety risk, if the prosecuting attorney requests in writing that no disclosure be made, if the victim is currently incarcerated, or if the inmate has been employed by the department or by law enforcement and disclosure would present a safety risk. If any of these factors apply the department must still notify the prosecutor within 48 hours, but only that a relocation has been made. If the prosecuting attorney disagrees with the department, the department must disclose the location to any registered victims.

SIGNED

Pros

Victims have a right to know where those who have harmed them are residing. This bill puts in appropriate safeguards to create a process where victims stay informed.

Cons

This bill adds a lot of red tape for a process that isn’t changing the material fact that an inmate is in jail where they cannot harm the victim. It also gives prosecutors too much power, in effect they determine safety concerns not the Department of Corrections which is better suited for making these decisions.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-014

SB18-059: Public Safety Information-Sharing System

Creates a $1.9 million grant program to create and operate a law enforcement information sharing system. Money comes from the marijuana tax fund.

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Pros

Each law enforcement agency in the state often has its own independent records-management system which makes it extremely difficult for them to share information which leads to lower law enforcement performance. Putting all agencies onto the same system is not a practical solution and would cost far more to implement. This bill creates the structure to build a practical system to address this problem.

Cons

Information sharing is an extremely difficult task, the state would be better off moving all law enforcement agencies into the same system rather than trying to make a bunch of different systems able to communicate with each other, even if it costs more.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-059

SB18-116: Capitol Identification Card

Creates an ID card members of the public can get for a $250 fee which allows them to access the capitol building, state services building, or legislative services building without submitting to a security search. The application requires passing a fingerprint-based criminal history check and the state patrol (which handles security at the capitol) may deny any request regardless of the results of the criminal history check. All cards are valid for two years.

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Pros

This streamlines getting in and out of the capitol building. Much like we use TSA precheck for airlines, this allows people to get extra screening once so they are then valid every time they enter the capitol.

Cons

We’ve seen too many cases of violence from individuals who did not have a prior criminal history to skip over checking people for bombs and weapons when entering the capitol and other legislative areas. Unfortunately our elected officials are prime targets. We don’t need to make security laxer.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-116

SB18-158: School Access to Interoperable Communication Technology

Creates a grant program to provide funding for interoperable communication hardware, maintenance, and training to allow for seamless communication between existing school communications systems and first responders.

SIGNED

Pros

The state just joined a new first responder wireless network, we need to make sure all our schools can operate seamlessly with it. This is also an area that many school districts struggle to keep up with on their own and the state’s programs have run out of money before reaching all areas of the state.

Cons

We’ve done this, twice, in the last decade. It’s time to pull some money out existing budgets rather than continuously funneling money into this area only to have to come back for more just a few years later.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-158

SB18-220: Public Safety Protection From Sanctuary Policies

Puts a referendum on the 2018 ballot that would require all state jurisdictions with at least 10,000 people to submit annual compliance reports stating that their jurisdiction is not prohibiting or restricting any employee from sending, receiving, or maintaining the immigration status of any individual or encouraging the harboring of an illegal immigrant. Jurisdictions must also certify that they are not being denied any federal grant money for their actions around immigration laws. There is no punishment written into the bill.

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Pros

Our system of government holds that federal laws are supreme over state or local laws. Anyone who violates federal immigration laws or does not uphold their duty to report illegal residents is therefore violating federal law, no matter what the state or local laws say. Therefore so-called sanctuary cities are in violation of federal law and are illegal. Furthermore, these policies encourage illegal immigrants by giving them a safe place to be, where they know local officials won’t turn them over to federal agents. The public has the right to know what jurisdictions are engaging in these practices.

Cons

This bill rests on an improper understanding of what so-called sanctuary cities are. They are a public safety measure, pure and simple. When illegal residents fear going to hospitals or police, everyone’s public safety suffers as crimes go unreported and injuries and illness go untreated at earlier stages. There is already a large backlog of immigration deportation cases and federal agents are already supposed to prioritize illegals who commit crimes over others. So-called sanctuary cities do not protect illegals who commit crimes, so not turning people over to ICE isn’t materially affecting the immigration system in this country. If the federal government believes these cities are violating the law, then the federal government needs to take action. The fact that is has not, despite virulently anti-illegal immigration individuals in charge, speaks volumes.

FROM THE OTHER SIDE

This bill has no enforcement mechanism. It isn't exactly a state secret what jurisdictions are engaging in sanctuary policies, they generally loudly trumpet it. If we want to stop the practice, we need real penalties for doing it.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-220

SB18-238: County Jail Prisoner Labor

Currently county jail prisoners are required to work inside the jail and can work outside the jail if no work is available inside. This bill permits sheriffs to allow prisoners to work outside of jail at any time, including on public property.

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Pros

Municipalities can greatly benefit from having reduced cost work done on their property and those savings will go to other worthy projects that benefit the taxpayers. Since the prisoners are required to work anyway, why not have them working on something that benefits everyone?

Cons

This is basically work gangs, which are highly controversial because they are unpaid labor which hurts local laborers who of course cannot compete with the minor costs of guarding the inmates. It also creates an incentive for municipalities to keep people in their county jails because they can then use the inmates as a cheap work force.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-238

SB18-251: Statewide Behavioral Health Court Liaison Program

Creates a statewide behavioral health liaison program to identify and dedicate local behavioral health professionals as court liaisons in each state judicial district to facilitate communication and collaboration among judicial, health care, and behavioral health systems. Funding must be allocated based on case volume, geographic complexity and density of need.

SIGNED

Pros

Colorado’s citizens living with mental health and substance use disorders are overrepresented in the criminal justice system and we need better ways of getting all of the involved parties (attorneys, judges, behavioral and mental health systems) to better collaborate to achieve the best outcome. This will help get people the treatment they need while in jail, when they get out of jail, and if they are diverted from jail into a treatment program. To a degree, this bill helps make SB18-249 work effectively.

Cons

While better collaboration is always nice, the goals of the collaboration as stated in the bill are clearly to get more people out of the criminal justice system and into community mental health programs. This is a way for criminals to avoid punishment entirely for their crimes, people should pay their debt to society, even if it is a small one, and get the treatment they need in prison.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-251

SB18-263: Pilot Program Court Approval Treatment Medications in Jails

Creates a pilot program in the department of human services to establish safety and effectiveness of allowing a licensed psychiatrist to petition the court for authority to administer medications in jail against the wishes of the inmate. A maximum of five jails can participate in the program. The inmate must be deemed not competent to make decisions about medication and the medication must be necessary to prevent or reduce long-term deterioration in the inmate’s mental health with the goal of preventing serious harm to the inmate or others with viable less invasive treatments not available.

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Pros

This is a drastic step, but mental health problems are a big problem in our prisons, with studies showing that nearly 40% of all inmates need mental health services. In situations where an inmate cannot make these sorts of decisions themselves, we need a way to ensure their safety and the safety of others. By doing this as a pilot program, we can see how it goes before bringing it state-wide.

Cons

The state is already backlogged when it comes to mental competency hearings, so much so that in December the state revealed that for the second time in six months it was out of compliance with a federal court order to conduct mental competency evaluations or begin treatment within 28 days of a judge’s order. Adding yet more competency proceedings will not help.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-263

SB18-274: Implement Prison Utilization Studies

Implements recommendations from the 2013 and 2016 prison utilization studies from the department of corrections. When prison population projections indicate excess capacity the department should move to close facilities as prioritized in the 2013 study. The bill also rearranges some correctional facilities, moving some services from the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center to the Centennial South Campus and creates a reentry program at Centennial South. The freed up space in Denver is to be used to house inmates with physical, cognitive, and medical conditions that require long-term treatment.

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Pros

When you get recommendations from a department, you should implement them if they make sense. The Centennial facility must remain vacant by law while the department tries to sell or lease it. This does not make sense given that projections show the prison population will grow beyond current capacity. So let’s use that facility, the cost to repurpose it will be less than what it would be to build or buy new facilities. It also makes sense that if we reach a happy time when we have fewer prisoners, then we should proceed to closing some facilities. It costs money to run them.

Cons

Moving to close facilities based on projections could lead to future trouble if the prisoner population grows again and cost more money in the long-run as we have to ramp back up. Given that current projections show shortages rather than excess capacity, it doesn’t seem necessary to address this now. Converting these facilities to new missions will cost more than $10 million and nearly $20 million to operate in future years. Perhaps we should instead aim for fewer prisoners, particularly in the area of non-violent criminals.

How Should Your Representatives Vote on SB18-274