Attorney General Suthers Praises Dismissal Of Parolee Voting Suit

DENVER – Attorney General Suthers today praised the decision of the Denver District Court confirming that C.R.S. 1-2-103(4) does not violate the Colorado Constitution or the Equal Protection Clause by making parolees ineligible to vote. Denver District Court dismissed the case Friday, May 26 and granted the Secretary’s Motion to Dismiss.

“We’re pleased with the Court’s decision, confirming our view of Colorado law,” said Suthers. “The key issue in this suit was whether parole is considered part of a term of imprisonment. Under Colorado law, an offender has not served their term of imprisonment until they have completed all components of their sentence, including parole. This was the clear directive of the General Assembly and it is my job to defend the law.”

C.R.S. 1-2-103(4) states that “no person while serving a sentence of detention or confinement in a correctional facility, jail or other location for a felony conviction or while serving a sentence of parole shall be eligible to register to vote or to vote in any election. . .”

The District Court’s order notes that the U.S. Supreme Court and the Colorado Courts have historically held that a term of imprisonment also includes a period of parole. The Denver District Court based its opinion on a Colorado Supreme Court opinion in which an attorney who was on parole was denied the right to practice law while he was still serving out his “full term of imprisonment.”

Judge Michael A. Martinez, in writing the order, also rejected the Plaintiffs’ argument that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution because the choice of allowing a felon to vote is a decision properly left to the states, not the federal government.

The case is captioned Pastor Danielson, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and Colorado Cure v. Secretary of State, Denver District Court 06 CV 954.

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