By Ali McNally, STATE BILL COLORADO
LAKEWOOD — The Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice’s sentencing commission met today to vote on recommendations for legislation modifying state prison sentences.
There didn’t seem to be much headway.
Since January, the committee has held monthly meetings to discuss and vote on recommendations for sentencing reform bills in efforts to save the state budget from the vice-like grip of prison costs and overcrowding.
Last month, the committee voted the recommendations that were to be made to the legislature. They were to make their final decisions today. After votes were submitted on reopening DUI issues for discussion, confusion resulted on what committee members voted for in regards to putting recommendations up for discussion.
“I’m sensing some confusion here on what people just voted on,” Jeanne Smith, director of the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Criminal Justice, said to a room filled with 23 exhausted-looking committee members. The meeting was moved back nearly two hours to open a discussion on the recommendations and further explanation of voting protocol.
Colorado Public Defender Doug Wilson and Adams County District Attorney Don Quick both agreed that today’s meeting went much slower than others, noting that confusion surrounding voting was at fault.
“This is the slowest flow of information we’ve ever had at a meeting,” Quick said. “The pace has been tough on everyone.”
One hot topic were the DUI recommendations, including the question of removing mandatory jail sentences for those with repeated driving offenses of non alcoholic-related crimes. Wilson was noticeably frustrated over the confusion over the DUI sentencing that arose as a result of a Denver Post article that reported a staggering number of repeat DUI offenders.
“A little bit of confusion is normal for large meetings like this,” said Attorney General John Suthers, who warned the committee that he wasn’t “going to testify on a bill that did not come out of this committee.”