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NEWS

Short Update: Colorado Supreme Court denies petition for more actions to limit COVID-19 in jails

FairTrialsAdmin - April 29, 2020 - COVID-19 Updates, Prison conditions, Prisoner releases

On 3 April, the Colorado Public Defender office and criminal defence bar filed an urgent petition imploring the state’s Supreme Court to take aggressive steps to decrease the Colorado jail population in the face of COVID-19. Less than twenty-four hours later, the Court denied the petition without dissent or explanation.

There are 35,000 people incarcerated in Colorad. Incarcerated people are particularly vulnerable to contagion, every effort must be made to release as many detainees as possible. The Court’s failure to address these concerns is disappointing not only because of the immediate risk but also because other courts had already paved the path to relief. A growing list of high courts—including those in California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, and South Carolina—have taken proactive measures to address this humanitarian disaster. 

There are, however, promising announcements. For example: Colorado Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order granting the director of the Department of Corrections authority to refuse to admit people to prison and to grant early release to qualifying individuals.  Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty also announced that his office would recommend the release of certain categories of detained people. The Denver Police Department has begun issuing citations in lieu of arrest.

Read the entire piece here

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