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I_JailFunding_2017A 07/17/2017 01:00 PM Committee Summary

Final

STAFF SUMMARY OF MEETING



COUNTY COURTHOUSE AND COUNTY JAIL FUNDING AND OVERCROWDING SOLUTIONS

Date: 07/17/2017
ATTENDANCE
Time: 01:00 PM to 05:30 PM
Beckman
X
Crowder
X
Place: SCR 352
Fields
X
Michaelson Jenet
E
This Meeting was called to order by
Benavidez
X
Senator Coram
Coram
X
This Report was prepared by
Juliann Jenson
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call
Bills Addressed: Action Taken:
Call to Order and Opening Remarks

Committee Charge and Interim Bill Drafting Process

Legislative History of County Courthouse and Jail Funding

County Courthouses and Jails: Overview from the Counties

County Jail Population Issues

Underfunded Courthouse Facility and Court Security Cash Fund Grants

State Prisoners in County Jails

Public Testimony
Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only

Witness Testimony and/or Committee Discussion Only





01:00 PM -- Call to Order and Opening Remarks



Senator Coram, chair, called the committee to order. He gave opening remarks and stressed that county courthouse funding and jail overcrowding are common problems across the state. He emphasized that the committee welcomes testimony and is open to new ideas about how to best address these issues.



Representative Benavidez, vice-chair, gave opening remarks regarding the interim committee and expressed interest in the topic area. She also noted the importance of learning from counties about their courthouse funding and jail overcrowding concerns.





01:02 PM -- Committee Charge and Interim Bill Drafting Process



Julia Jackson, Legislative Council Staff, introduced herself and staff members Chris Creighton and Juliann Jenson. She referenced the memoranda prepared and distributed by committee staff about the committee charge, courthouse funding, and county jails.



Richard Sweetman, Office of Legislative Legal Services, introduced himself and reviewed drafting and introduction deadlines for interim committees.















01:07 PM -- Legislative History of County Courthouse and Jail Funding



Chris Creighton, Fiscal Analyst, Legislative Council Staff, provided an overview and legislative history of county courthouse funding. He referenced a memorandum and issue brief that he wrote on these subjects. He answered questions from the committee about courts of record, the amount of funding in the Underfunded Courthouse Facility and Court Security Cash Funds, and state constitutional provisions related to the funding of courthouses.





01:23 PM -- County Courthouses and Jails: Overview from the Counties



Darius Allen, Alamosa County Board of Commissioners, provided an overview of courthouse funding and overcrowded jails in his county and distributed a handout from Colorado Counties, Inc., on these topics (Attachment A). Mr. Allen explained that his county needs to contract with other county jails to house overflow inmates, and this is costing the county a half million dollars a year in reimbursement and transportation. Other increasing jail costs include: pre-trial tracking, health care, and prescription drugs. Mr. Allen also mentioned there is a high demand for drug and alcohol treatment and mental health services. Further, Mr. Allen discussed sentencing and staffing issues in the district attorney's office and the work release program. He answered questions from the committee about occupancy standards, Department of Corrections (DOC) inmates, illegal substances, reimbursements, demographics, and mental health assessments.



17CountyCourthouse0717AttachA.pdf17CountyCourthouse0717AttachA.pdf



01:57 PM



Nancy Jackson, Arapahoe County Board of Commissioners, discussed jails and courthouses in her county and distributed a handout regarding a recent public safety system assessment (Attachment B). Ms. Jackson explained that courthouses across the state are outdated and in need of repair. She further emphasized that funding is not keeping pace with growth and discussed the county jail and the inmate population. She noted the success of diversion programs in managing jail populations, but stressed there is a need for mental health services and substance abuse treatment as well. Ms. Jackson invited the committee to tour the Arapahoe County Jail and Justice Center. She answered questions from the committee about parole board delays, DOC inmates, and substance abuse.



17CountyCourthouse0717AttachB.pdf17CountyCourthouse0717AttachB.pdf



































02:20 PM



Rose Pugliese, Mesa County Board of Commissioners, discussed jails and the courthouse funding structure in the state. She expressed frustration that the state makes court-related decisions and then expects the counties to pay. She also discussed jail overcrowding issues and the need to contract with other counties to house overflow inmates. She explained that the jail population in Mesa County was better managed using work release programs, risk assessments, and evidence-based decision making, but those alternatives are not widely used at the moment. The lack of mental health facilities was also explained. She answered questions from the committee about the pre-trial population, work release programs, and DOC inmates. Commissioner Pugliese responded that DOC has been responsive about moving inmates awaiting transfer to prison.





02:36 PM



Terry Hart, Pueblo County Board of Commissioners, discussed the state and county relationship and unfunded mandates in relation to courthouses. He explained that Pueblo County recently built a new courthouse and recommended that state tenants pay a portion of the rent to offset costs. Commissioner Hart also discussed jail overcrowding, lack of substance abuse and mental health services for inmates, violent offenders in jails, sentencing reform, and inmate access to Medicaid. He further suggested that counties across the state compile and share their best practices regarding pre-trial and other jail overcrowding issues (i.e., diversion programs). He answered questions about the impact of state funds, crisis response practices, illegal substance abuse, and prescription drug use. Discussion ensued about inmate demographics and illegal substances, and Representative Beckman expressed interest in obtaining information from counties about the relationship between the two.





03:06 PM -- County Jail Population Issues



Josh Bellendir, representing the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, replaced Captain Tim Palmer on the agenda. Mr. Bellendir provided an overview of the jail in Larimar County. He discussed the rising population of female inmates, transportation costs for overflow inmates, DOC inmate backlog, and the county's relationship with community corrections. He explained that the county's alternative sentencing program has been successful in managing the jail population. He answered questions from the committee about offenses that warrant jail time, the increase in homeless detainees, and marijuana use and drug addiction among inmates.





03:19 PM




Captain Vici Pierce, Montezuma County Sheriff's Office, provided an overview to the committee about the jail and inmate population in her county. She emphasized that jails of all sizes experience many of the same overcrowding issues and that approximately 60 percent of jail inmates in her county are pre-trial detainees. Montezuma County has made attempts at using pre-trial and work release programs but does not have adequate staffing. She discussed the increase in the transient inmate population and answered questions from the committee about drug use.

























03:31 PM



Sheriff Richard Valdez, Archuleta County Sheriff's Office, reiterated that jails across the state are experiencing similar issues regarding overcrowding and lack of mental health services. Sheriff Valdez explained that these issues are even more pertinent in Archuleta County because parts of the jail are uninhabitable due to severe flooding in 2015. There is a measure on an upcoming county ballot asking for a tax increase expressly for these repairs, but the Sheriff expressed concerns about its passage. Sheriff Valdez also referenced a jail assistance fund in Section 16-3-503 (1), C.R.S., and asked about access to those funds.





03:47 PM -- Underfunded Courthouse Facility and Court Security Cash Fund Grants



Chris Ryan, Acting State Court Administrator, Colorado Judicial Branch, discussed the function of county courthouses and the Courthouse Security Cash Fund. He emphasized that courthouses often house other county services beyond courts and noted that he views the relationship as a state and county partnership. He discussed the benefits provided by the state, such as court personnel. He then explained criteria to receive grants from the Courthouse Security Cash Fund. Funds are required to be supplemental and may only be used for personnel, equipment, and training. The vast majority (90 percent) of requests are for training. The fund is subsidized by a fee imposed on court cases plus general fund appropriations. Mr. Ryan answered questions from the committee about the structure of other state court systems and why the District Attorney's Office is a county responsibility in Colorado. Mr. Ryan relayed that statutory changes would be necessary to change the court structure in this state as well as the funding mechanisms related to the Courthouse Security Cash Fund. The committee expressed an interest in how other states structure their court systems.





03:55 PM



Marty Galvin, Senior Finance Manager, Office of the State Court Administrator, discussed the Underfunded Courthouse Facility Fund. He explained that affiliated grant funds can only be used for master planning services, matching funds, and emergency needs. The fund receives an annual general fund appropriation of 2 million dollars and has not received any gifts, grants, or donations. He further relayed that the demand outweighs the amount of available funds and approximately 43 percent of the grant requests are accepted. He answered questions from the committee about the number of underfunded courthouses across the state, historical preservation, and fee revenue funds.





04:17 PM



Steve Allen, Joint Budget Committee Staff, answered questions about the County Jail Assistance Fund that was referenced earlier in the committee by Sheriff Valdez of Archuleta County. Mr. Allen confirmed that the fund has been repealed and explained that he is not aware of any other state funding sources that jails could access.



Representative Beckman suggested that Joint Budget Committee (JBC) staff speak to both the Underfunded Courthouse Facility and Court Security Cash Fund at a future meeting.























04:23 PM -- State Prisoners in County Jails




Travis Trani, Director of Prisons, Colorado Department of Corrections, discussed the role of DOC in jail overcrowding. He explained that state inmates are generally in county jails because of parole violations or awaiting transfer to prison. He relayed that he recently met with county sheriffs to find ways to alleviate this problem. In response, he explained that the DOC is relying upon temporary fixes such as adding beds to various facilities along with procuring sled beds. He answered questions from the committee about private prisons and staffing costs, reimbursement rate to counties, reimbursement rates in other states, and rehabilitation programs. Discussion ensued about the reimbursement rate and why it does not reflect actual jail operating costs.





04:40 PM



Scott Dauffenbach, Assistant Director of Offender Services, Colorado Department of Corrections, discussed the prison intake process. He explained the factors influencing jail bed occupation by DOC inmates, including availability, offender movement delays, and county transport issues. Mr. Dauffenbach also emphasized that DOC works with counties to prioritize state inmates with severe health or behavioral management issues. He answered questions from the committee about available medical resources and cost for state prisoners, community corrections, and parole violations.





. 04:55 PM -- Public Testimony



04:55 PM
-- Ronnie Maez, Archuleta County Commissioner, provided testimony to the interim committee. He emphasized the need for the committee to recommend concrete proposals, with an emphasis on county unfunded mandates. He also pointed out that county courthouses are housing tenants who do not pay rent. He answered questions from the committee.



04:59 PM
-- Glen Davis, Montrose County Commissioner, provided testimony to the committee. He stated that jail overcrowding is a problem that can be alleviated with higher reimbursement rates. He stressed that counties receive too many unfunded mandates from the state, including the provision of health and mental health services.



05:06 PM
-- Kevin Duffy, Captain of Detention, Douglas County Sheriff's Office, provided testimony to the committee. Captain Duffy recommended that the committee review the number of DOC prisoners who pass through a jail during a year time frame instead of focusing on average daily population. For example, he reported that over 7,000 DOC inmates spent time in the Douglas County Detention Facility last year, which was a significant cost to the county in terms of medical assessments, transportation issues, and release requirements. He explained that DOC has been responsive to jail backlog inmates but parole violators constitute the largest population of DOC inmates in county jails. He also discussed Medicaid and its application to county jail inmates, reimbursement issues, the use of county jails as mental health facilities, and the problems with inmate families not willing to post bond. Discussion ensued regarding Medicaid and its suspension while in a facility. Captain Duffy also clarified that jail inmate hospital stays for less than 24 hours are a county responsibility.























05:18 PM
-- Denise Mays, representing American Civil Liberties Union, provided testimony to the committee regarding bail reform. She reported that bail plays a negative role in managing the pre-trial jail population. She further noted that too many inmates cannot afford to post bail and remain in jail unnecessarily because of it. She cited studies regarding the effectiveness of unsecured money or personal recognizance bonds. She answered questions from the committee.





5:30 PM



Staff announced that the next meeting of the interim committee is scheduled for July 31, 2017. The committee was adjourned.


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