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Improve Prison Release Outcomes

Concerning measures to improve prison release outcomes.
2021 Regular Session
Crimes, Corrections, & Enforcement
Bill Summary

Sections 1 and 2 of the bill change the eligibility criteria for inmates who are eligible for special needs parole. The bill allows an inmate to request that the department of corrections (DOC) determine whether the inmate is eligible for special needs parole. The bill requires the DOC, in consultation with the parole board, to develop policies and procedures related to special needs parole. The bill allows the inmate to include a statement in the referral packet for special needs parole and an opportunity to provide any additional relevant information in the referral packet. The bill requires the parole board to consider the age of the inmate and the DOC's ability to provide adequate medical and behavioral health treatment to the inmate in granting or denying special needs parole. The parole board cannot deny special needs parole based solely on the lack of a recommended parole plan.Sections 3 through 6 of the bill require the DOC to:

  • Develop a recommended parole plan for every inmate prior to release from prison;
  • Develop policies and procedures related to prerelease planning; and
  • Include in its monthly population report information related to delayed parole decisions.

The bill prohibits the parole board from denying parole based solely on the lack of a recommended parole plan.

The bill requires the office of state public defender to provide liaisons to DOC and the parole board to assist in criminal-related legal matters that would impact successful reentry. The bill requires the DOC or a member of the parole board to suspend a parole hearing if they believe the offender is incompetent to proceed or has a mental health disorder and notify the public defender parole liaison of the situation. In the case of incompetency, the liaison shall file a motion to determine competency with the trial court that imposed the sentence. In the case of a mental health disorder, the liaison shall help the inmate obtain counsel if a civil commitment hearing is warranted.

Sections 7 and 8 of the bill require the DOC to ensure that any inmate who is 65 years of age or older and is being released from prison is enrolled in medicare or health insurance prior to release or upon release, whichever will offer more immediate and comprehensive health care coverage. The DOC shall pay any insurance premiums and penalties for up to 12 months from the start of coverage. The DOC may provide financial assistance for longer than 12 months if the person is still under the jurisdiction of the DOC and would otherwise be uninsured or underinsured without that financial assistance. The bill requires the Colorado commission on the aging to study and make recommendations related to health care for inmates who are 65 years of age or older and being released from prison and provide the report prior to January 1, 2022.Section 9 of the bill requires the DOC to award one day of earned time for each day that an inmate was incarcerated during a declared disaster emergency that impacted prison operations.Sections 10 through 12 of the bill make conforming changes to align with the new offense of unauthorized absence. The bill requires the parole board to schedule a parole hearing for an inmate serving a sentence for escape or attempt to escape, the elements of which would now constitute the offense of unauthorized absence.Section 13 of the bill requires all youthful offender system (YOS) staff to be trained in the first 45 days of employment. The bill repeals the requirement that district attorneys keep records of all juveniles sentenced to the YOS.

The bill requires the DOC to conduct a study with external experts regarding the effectiveness of the YOS and the potential of expanding the system to serve offenders up to age 25 years old.

Section 14 of the bill allows the Colorado state penitentiary II to be used to house inmates to facilitate movement of prisoners during a declared disaster emergency that impacts state prison operations.
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)


Under Consideration


Bill Text


Sponsor Type Legislators
Prime Sponsor

Sen. P. Lee
Rep. J. Bacon