Location: SCR 352
Pre-Trial Detention in County Jails
COUNTY COURTHOUSE AND COUNTY JAIL FUNDING AND OVERCROWDING SOLUTIONS
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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.
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).
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.