How Drug-Possession Felonies Are Overwhelming Colorado Prisons

"These institutions were never designed to be treatment centers, and they can't be relied upon to do that," notes Donner."

"That's why the CCJRC is supporting House Bill 19-1263, which was introduced on March 22 and will be heard in the house Judiciary Committee on April 2; it's sponsored by representatives Leslie Herod and Shane Sandridge, as well as senators Vicki Marble and Pete Lee. If approved, the measure would reduce felony simple drug possession crimes in the state to misdemeanors; those convicted of possessing drugs for personal use would face a maximum of six months in jail and two years of probation, instead of the current maximum penalty of 18 months. The bill would also lower penalties for other drug possession misdemeanors and remove the felony charge for possessing more than 12 ounces of marijuana. The bill would not make any changes related to drug-distribution offenses."

"Our state cannot afford to continue doling out felony convictions and sending people to prison for drug possession," Herod allows in a statement provided to Westword. "It has not made our community safer, but it has created a whole host of problems for many people and families in our community. Permanently branding drug users as criminals makes it harder for them to access the things they need to get back on their feet, like stable housing and employment. Most Coloradans agree we should focus more on treatment and prevention instead of punishment and incarceration, and that is exactly what this legislation does."

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