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I_JailFunding_2017A 08/28/2017 09:00 AM Committee Summary




Date: 08/28/2017
Time: 09:05 AM to 01:01 PM
Place: SCR 352
Michaelson Jenet
This Meeting was called to order by
Senator Coram
This Report was prepared by
Juliann Jenson
X = Present, E = Excused, A = Absent, * = Present after roll call, R = Remote Participation
Bills Addressed: Action Taken:
Pre-Trial Detention in County Jails

Perspectives on Jail Overcrowding

National Perspective on State Policies Affecting Local Jails

Behavioral Health Services for County Jails

Competency Restoration and Court-Ordered Evaluations
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

09:06 AM -- Pre-Trial Detention in County Jails

Dan Hotsenpiller, District Attorney of the 7th Judicial District, started his presentation by acknowledging the unique challenges county jails across the state face. Some jails, such as Alamosa, are experiencing severe overcrowding while others are not. He explained that pre-trial services have proven effective in managing jail populations yet 33 counties in the state do not use them. He informed the committee that pre-trial services are more costly to provide in rural areas than in urban ones but suggested base level funding to help alleviate this variation.

Mr. Hotsenpiller also recommended using video technology for court appearances. Video linking is particularly useful for offenders serving time in another county jail due to overcrowding issues. Transporting inmates from one jail to another for court appearances is costly, and a video link could help to alleviate this expense. He explained that some of the judges are reluctant to use this technology, but it could be better supported and become more widely used with a rule change or chief justice directive.

Mr. Hotsenpiller discussed mental and behavioral health services. He explained that it is difficult to maintain full-time therapists in jail due to the cost. He suggested that crisis dollars be used to fund mental health experts to co-respond with police at the time of an arrest. Another concept he suggested for consideration is a regional jail or a regional management model, especially in judicial districts that cover a large territory. He further answered questions about county-to-county reimbursement rates and relayed that the rate is negotiated between counties. The Department of Corrections (DOC) reimbursement rate, on the other hand, is non-negotiable and does not adequately cover housing costs. Other issues discussed were failure to appear rates, delayed booking to address potential medical concerns, and liability issues.

09:39 AM

Michael Dougherty, Assistant District Attorney, 1st Judicial District, discussed the disparities in county jails across the state. He noted the extreme crowding in Alamosa County and the relationship to the opioid epidemic. He emphasized the importance of pre-trial services and processing cases in a timely manner. He relayed that Jefferson County's pre-trial services have evolved into a successful program. He also discussed failure to appear rates and the expedited process used to address these cases. He answered questions from the committee about court date reminder calls to the pre-trial population in the community, criminal justice coordinating councils, alcohol and drug treatment, bond, and overall funding challenges. He distributed a copy of an opinion piece he wrote for the Valley Courier newspaper (Attachment A).


09:53 AM

Tom Raynes, Colorado District Attorneys' Council, discussed Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) grants. LEAD grants assist in establishing a program to divert low-level drug offenders into community-based treatment and mental health services. He relayed that Alamosa County is applying for one of these grants in an effort to manage jail over-crowding. He also mentioned that felony filings have increased across the state, which impacts local jails.

10:05 AM -- Perspectives on Jail Overcrowding

Stan Hilkey, Director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety, first discussed the role of Medicaid in serving the inmate population. He explained that jails will not accept anyone without a medical clearance, and arrested individuals with a noted medical condition will visit a hospital before the jail. At this juncture, the arrested individuals are still eligible to receive Medicaid coverage because they are not behind bars. He also emphasized that the pre-trial population is diverted as much as possible to mental health facilities or treatment if the need is apparent.

Mr. Hilkey relayed that jurisdictions benefit from a criminal justice coordinating council, which should include all parties involved in the criminal justice system. Further, coordinating councils put local jurisdictions in a better position to receive technical assistance and grants from national organizations. He also stressed the importance of analyzing the system from all decision-making points, starting at the time of arrest.

Mr. Hilkey discussed risk assessments, evidence-based decision making, and the pre-trial program in Mesa County. He also noted that Mesa County had a strong criminal justice coordinating council. Among other items, the council closely reviewed the bond schedule, composition of the pre-trial population, pre-sentence investigations, case loads, and appearance and safety rates.

Mr. Hilkey further explained reasons for the varying daily costs of jail across the state and suggested that a common formula be developed for more accurate comparisons. Some counties include marginal costs while others do not. Lastly, he discussed failure to appear rates and relayed that pre-trial programs and reminder calls increase the likelihood of individuals showing up to court. He answered questions from the committee about reminder calls, pre-trial services, bail, alternatives to jail, work release programs, resources or lack thereof, and coordinating councils and facilitators.

Mr. Hilkey distributed the following handouts:

  • Moving Beyond Money: A Primer on Bail Reform, Criminal Justice Policy Program, Harvard Law School, October 2016 (Attachment B);


  • Colorado profile on prison and jail incarceration rates, Prison Policy Initiative (Attachment C);


  • Era of Mass Expansion: Why State Officials Should Fight Jail Growth, Prison Policy Initiative, May 2017 (Attachment D); and


  • Pretrial Justice: What Sheriffs Need to Know, Pre-Trial Justice Institute (Attachment E).


10:52 AM -- National Perspective on State Policies Affecting Local Jails

Amber Widgery, National Conference of State Legislatures, discussed front-end programs and legislation to avoid jail overcrowding . She explained who is in jail and for what reason, including the high number of inmates with mental health issues and co-occuring substance use disorders. She first discussed "deflection" models, which refer citizens to community human services instead of the criminal justice system and thus bypass an arrest or charge. Deflection laws have primarily focused on substance abuse but are starting to be used for mental health needs as well. She also noted that 27 states require police officers to receive mental health response training. Other front end laws include Good Samaritan or 911 immunity laws, which prohibit arrest when calling 911 to report an overdose.

Ms. Widgery further discussed pre-trial services, specialized courts, and diversion programs. She reported that Colorado is moving toward a risk-based method of assessing pre-trial release. Other states are providing legislative guidance concerning least restrictive conditions and are limiting the court's ability to impose financial conditions as a condition of pre-trial release. Some states, such as Kentucky, provide state assistance to counties to establish pre-trial programs and have included components such as medication assisted treatment. She answered questions about failure to appear rates, pre-trial detainees, risk assessments, and reminder calls. She mentioned that Jefferson County has completed a pilot study regarding the effectiveness of reminder calls.

11:14 AM

Allison Lawrence, National Conference of State Legislatures, discussed programs and legislation concerning convicted inmates in jail. These inmates include those serving sentences, state DOC inmates and parolees, federal inmates, and those awaiting transfer to a mental health facility. She discussed state reimbursement rates nationwide and reported there is a wide array of state law and policy regarding this topic. She noted that some states have addressed time limitations and others have created tiered reimbursement systems based on factors such as treatment availability.

Ms. Lawrence also provided examples of states that have used performance incentive funding for counties that successfully supervise justice involved individuals in the community. Other states have capped the amount of time a probationer or parolee may spend in jail for a violating a condition of supervision. Further, some states have time restrictions on hearings and utilize electronic sentencing orders to expedite matters. She mentioned a safety and justice grant that Adams and Mesa Counties received from the MacArthur Foundation. These grants encourage experimental ways to reduce the jail population, and participating counties receive specialized assistance in collecting data and program evaluation. Medicaid's application to jail inmates was also addressed. She explained that statutory authorization is not needed to pursue Medicaid reimbursements, but some states have passed laws or regulations to assist with logistics and coordination.

A copy of the material presented by NCSL staff was made available to the committee (Attachment F).


11:55 AM

Chris Johnson, County Sheriffs of Colorado, shared information about innovative reminder phone calls in Delta County.

11:56 AM

Julia Jackson, Legislative Council Staff, provided information about the afternoon tour of the Arapahoe County Jail. She also reviewed upcoming meeting dates, with the next scheduled for September 11, 2017, and bill draft requirements and timelines.

11:58 AM

Christina Rosendahl, Department of Corrections, discussed DOC inmates in county jails. She explained that parolees in jail on a technical violation or who have committed a new crime cannot be moved until a Parole Board hearing. She reported that DOC is looking into other intermediate sanctions to address technical violators. She answered questions from the committee about community corrections, the increase in female inmates, and capacity.

12:11 PM -- Behavioral Health Services for County Jails

Jagruti Shah, Office of Behavioral Health in the Department of Human Services, provided an overview of jail based behavioral health services. She reported that 46 county jails have access to these services, and the remaining counties declined the program. She explained that the program is designed to support the county sheriffs in providing screening, assessment, and treatment for substance use disorders and co-occurring substance and mental health disorders. She further explained that eligibility criteria varies from program to program, but the goals are to reduce recidivism and critical incidents in jail, link inmates to community based services, and shorten jail sentences. Ms. Shah reported that an independent contractor is conducting an evaluation on the program, and the final report is anticipated in December 2017. She answered questions from the committee and distributed a handout explaining the program, services provided, and numbers served (Attachment G).


12:27 PM -- Competency Restoration and Court-Ordered Evaluations

Patrick Fox, Chief Medical Officer, Office of Behavioral Health in the Department of Human Services, presented information about competency evaluations and restoration and discussed related state statutes. He distributed a handout that included data and charts regarding orders for evaluations, inpatient beds, court referrals, and the RISE program (Attachment H). He addressed inpatient competency evaluations and recommended a more robust use of outpatient competency restoration. He also recommended a range of options to meet clinical and restoration needs. He answered questions from the committee about the number of individuals in jails for restoration treatment and explained that just the symptoms related to competency are treated. Dr. Fox also responded to committee inquiries regarding the increase in court referrals for evaluations and turn around times.


01:01 PM

The committee adjourned.

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