Location: SCR 357
County Perspectives: Courthouse Funding
COUNTY COURTHOUSE AND COUNTY JAIL FUNDING AND OVERCROWDING SOLUTIONS
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02:30 PM -- County Perspectives: Courthouse Funding
Commissioner Terry Hart, Pueblo County Board of Commissioners, thanked the committee for their work. He explained that Pueblo County has struggled with courthouse and jail issues for a number of years. He noted that Pueblo County is trying to better understand the causes of jail population increases, including the need to address mental health and drug addiction. Commissioner Hart relayed that Pueblo County is pursuing a ballot question to fund the construction of a new jail and substance abuse and mental health treatment. He expressed a hope that the state would provide support if his county is able to begin addressing the issue locally.
Commissioner Hart suggested areas for the committee to pursue, including:
- recognizing that courthouse functions are a shared responsibility with the state;
- collecting and reporting capital construction needs at the state level;
- creating incentives for counties to put together a criminal justice coordinating committee;
- pursuing a statewide effort to determine actual jail costs and set corresponding Department of Corrections reimbursement rates;
- providing financial assistance to local jails, which remain a local responsibility but are heavily impacted by state and national level decisions;
- expanding the Underfunded Courthouse Facility grant program;
- addressing medical costs in jails;
- addressing the negative effects of the Gallagher Amendment on certain counties; and
- creating a revolving loan or cost-sharing program, similar to that of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.
In response to a committee member question, Commissioner Hart estimated that the county's contract for medical services is about $3.5 million annually. He added that extraordinary medical costs are addressed separately through an insurance program.
Commissioner Hart responded to questions about the Gallagher amendment and mill levy adjustments. He offered comments on earlier presentations to the committee.
Allison Daley, Colorado Counties, Inc., discussed prior presentations, noting in particular her interest in Oregon's cost-sharing model for courts. She discussed counties' efforts to implement best practices and the limitations they face. She noted that county courts and jails are important in providing equal access to justice in Colorado.
Ms. Daley and Commissioner Hart responded to a question about how to organize criminal justice coordinating committees and the role of the state in that process.
Committee discussion continued with Ms. Daley and Commissioner Hart regarding local jails and the ability of counties to pass tax increases.
Commissioner Hart responded to questions about how counties can properly assess jail overcrowding and address the causes of incarceration.
The committee recessed.