Colorado Governor Jared Polis wrote a letter to the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice on Thursday calling for increased criminal penalties for those convicted of auto theft, as the commission continues to craft reforms around sentencing amid a spike in certain types of crimes in Colorado.
“We must continue to ensure that our justice system provides a wide range of rehabilitation and diversion options when needed, but also to ensure that dangerous offenders cannot re-enter communities and put us all at risk,” Polis said in a statement. the press release. letter. “Rehabilitation and restoration must continue to be our goals in any case.”
The letter follows a request from the commission on topics the governor wants investigated, and Polis said that while restructuring the sentencing law would be a “difficult undertaking,” he believes members of the The commission’s judicial system are “well equipped with the thought and consideration necessary for such an important task. Whatever recommendations emerge from the commission’s studies, they will be reported to the governor.”
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Polis outlined eight key points in the letter that he believes should be considered when it comes to sentencing decisions, including maximizing community safety, restoring and healing victims, and ensuring peace of mind. fair and consistent treatment.
In addition, Polis highlighted reforms to auto theft convictions, asking the commission to consider tougher sentences that he said could help prevent repeat offenses.
“The Commission should review the criminal classification of auto theft with respect to the monetary value of a stolen vehicle and instead consider whether to elevate the seriousness of the crime based on the number of previous offences, targeting especially prolific auto thieves,” Polis’ letter wrote. bed.
Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, said she doesn’t think asking the commission to focus on a specific crime is necessarily the best decision.
She also said that increasing penalties for auto theft will have no impact on reducing crime, and called it a “reflex” reaction to the increase in auto theft that the Colorado experienced.
“I think it’s interesting, in a maybe unnecessary way, to specifically call out car theft – and sort of say, ‘Well, even if you’re not making a recommendation, I’m going to do something with the legislature alone next year,” Donner said. “It interrupts a larger process by prioritizing this, and we are going to challenge the lack of understanding behind this request as if increasing penalties for motor vehicle theft will somehow reduce car theft. “
Another priority identified by Polis is improving post-incarceration reintegration services, including health and behavioral health services as well as community corrections and supervision. He also said the commission should assess victim services in light of upcoming reviews of the Victims’ Rights Act.
Polis asked the commission to look at national public safety best practices and use them to create a resource that state, county and local law enforcement agencies can refer to. . His latest request is that the commission examine a “vision for juvenile justice” as well as the best use of the young offender services program.
“I encourage the Commission to work at a deliberate and expeditious pace, particularly with respect to recommending changes to car theft penalties that will reduce car theft offences,” Polis wrote. “The work of the Commission must be thoughtful and considerate, and the Commission must work with flexibility so that all members can participate in and contribute to the important tasks of criminal and juvenile justice reform.