• Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon


The United States represents 5% of the world's population but incarcerates 25% of the world's prison population. That means 1 in 4 incarcerated individuals in the world are inside United States jails and prisons. Our reliance on jails and prisons funnels dollars to the department of corrections and private corporations rather than into programs that really enhance public safety. Instead we must focus more of our state funding into prevention services that have a greater impact on reducing criminal behavior in the first place.
Mass Incarceration 

The United States lives in a culture of incarceration. While Colorado saw a decline in its prison population between 2009 and 2012, that trend has reversed and is on the rise again. Right now, nearly one in 20 black men and 1 in 50 Hispanic men are behind bars in Colorado, compared to only one in 150 white men. But research shows this disparity isn’t because of differences in criminal activity, but rather inequities in the criminal justice system.


Leslie’s Plan - 97% of our current prison population will eventually be released into our community. For this reason, we must demand that our Department of Corrections effectively prepare this population for such re-entry into our community.  My plan will:


  • support DOC initiatives that focus on rehabilitation and re-entry;

  • allocate appropriate funding to programs that assist the DOC to do its job at fostering the successful integration into society;

  • support a comprehensive review of parole and probation practices to ensure that we are not re-incarcerating individuals for minor violations but rather are focused on those posing a risk to public safety;

  • advocate for second chances legislation that will remove barriers to employment for those that have paid their debt to society, thus providing them the opportunity to contribute to the Colorado economy;

  • expand record-sealing laws.



Sentencing Reform

Every year, state lawmakers enact laws that create new crimes or make more severe already existing crimes. The "tough on crime" approach is not the answer. Smart on crime is a better approach.


Leslie's Plan - Alternatives in sentencing deserve a serious look. Relying on alternatives to jails and prisons for low-level, low-risk offenders can lead to increased public safety. My plan will:


  • advocate for alternatives in sentencing recognizing that alternatives to jails and prisons for low-level, low-risk offenders can lead to better public safety;

  • create incentives for a greater reliance on problem-solving courts like drug and alcohol courts recognizing that, when done right, these courts produce better results;

  • advocate for a comprehensive review of current drug laws and sentencing to determine whether real changes are warranted that reduce our reliance on incarceration while keeping in mind public safety;

  • conduct a comprehensive review of best practices that have been implemented in other states with good results.



Juvenile Justice

For many years, reliance on severe discipline in schools, such as out of school suspensions, expulsions, police tickets and school-based arrests has harmed students, families, and schools. Tens of thousands of mostly African American, Latino, Native American and LGBTQ students have been needlessly pushed out of school and subjected to the criminal justice system. These policies are misguided and dangerous. Colorado lawmakers have done some work in this area but the job is not complete. 


Leslie’s Plan - For many school-aged children, an at school disciplinary matter can be their first encounter with police and the criminal justice system. Not only is this encounter disruptive of a child’s education, it can lead to a spiral of other disciplinary problems that can disrupt the family unit. My plan will:


  • enhance Colorado’s Smart School Discipline law, which improved data collection in this area;

  • ensure reporting and make certain there is consistency and accountability in the law;

  • provide support and funding for training at state school districts so that there is a clear understanding of alternatives to police intervention and when such alternatives are appropriate;

  • when youth rightfully find their way into the criminal justice system, I will advocate first for diversion and supervision programs, which for some youth can be more sensible approaches than incarceration.



Mental Health

For too long Colorado has short-changed mental health services and programs to deal with alcohol and substance abuse. Our jails and prisons have become de facto mental health institutions and drug and alcohol rehab centers.  We must reverse this reliance and instead invest dollars to help people deal with these serious issues before they morph into criminal behavior. 


Leslie’s Plan - With proper care, treatment and dialog, mental health conditions can be diagnosed and treated sooner and many of the repercussions can be avoided. My plan will:


  • put more dollars into mental health care;

  • provide incentives for reliance on mental health courts that serve as an alternative to jails and prisons; 

  • fund early intervention programs that will help people address mental health issues before they morph into criminal behavior.