Attorney General lauds pragmatic criminal justice reforms during the Colorado General Assembly’s 2010 session

DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers commented today that his office was pleased with a series of practical reforms at the Legislature this year, with three of the Office of the Attorney General’s four bills passing to the governor’s desk. The Office of the Attorney General’s successful bills dealt with penalties for illegal groundwater diversions, sex crimes at juvenile detention facilities and money laundering.

“Once again, we were able to work with the Legislature to pass a series of common sense bills that will not only make Colorado a safer place, but also will improve the way the state works for its residents,” Suthers said.

The office’s bills were:

  • House Bill 1081, which created a generally applicable felony for money laundering and made it a predicate component of “racketeering” under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act;
  • House Bill 1277, which closed a loophole that allowed employees and volunteers at juvenile detention facilities to escape prosecution for engaging in sexual activity with an inmate over the age of 18; and,
  • Senate Bill 27, which allows the state to fine people who divert groundwater in violation of an order of the state engineer in an amount of up to $500 per day. (Gov. Bill Ritter signed Senate Bill 27 into law on April 14, 2010.)

Only House Bill 1230, a proposal to modify Colorado’s laws regulating the debt-management industry, failed to pass.

Suthers said he was pleased with a number of bills the legislature passed, including several that came out of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice:

  • House Bill 1338, which allows a judge more flexibility in sentencing convicts with two or more felony convictions, provided none of those convictions are for violent crimes;
  • House Bill 1347, which stiffens the penalties for repeat drunken driving offenders;
  • House Bill 1352, which lowers the penalties for the simple possession of most controlled substances — with the exception of methamphetamine — and directs most of the cost savings into drug-offender treatment services; and,
  • House Bill 1373, which creates a statutory distinction between an escapee who walks away from community corrections or other similar programs and the inmate who escapes from a secure Colorado Department of Corrections facility.

“We were able to work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle this year to make progress in a variety of areas and to kill some bad ideas,” Suthers said. “Though we certainly did not get everything we wanted in every area of the law, we managed to take meaningful steps forward on several important issues, including drug-sentencing reform and the penalties for repeat offenders.”

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