Sentencing event 'a fiasco' 

The year's final meeting of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice led to widespread frustration and little progress reforming the state's sentencing laws.

"It was a fiasco," says Doug Wilson, the state's public defender.

"It was a day of 'no,'" says Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

Perhaps the biggest result from the Dec. 11 meeting was movement away from recommending mandatory minimum jail sentences for repeat drunken driving offenders, a decision that frustrated some law enforcement officials serving on the 27-member commission.

"[This is] a banner day for traffic offenders," Attorney General John Suthers declared after a vote on the DUI recommendation, according to the Denver Post.

Wilson was discouraged that the commission decided against various drug sentencing reforms, including one that would have lightened the penalty for possessing psilocybin mushrooms.

He was pleased, however, that the commission recommended changing a law that enhances penalties for anyone caught dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of public housing. Under the proposal, the perimeter would be reduced to 100 feet, eliminating a provision that Wilson says has had a disproportionate effect on low-income and minority residents who happen to live near housing projects.

Recommendations from the commission should show up in various bills put before the Legislature when it convenes in January.

— Anthony Lane


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