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Legislative Efforts at Lowering Jail Populations

by | Apr 23, 2021 | Criminal Justice |

On February 16, 2021, Senators Pete Lee and Adrienne Benavidez introduced Senate Bill 62, titled Jail Population Management Tools. This bill aims to codify the authority peace officers and sheriffs have been exercising over the last during to issue a summons and complaint for any offense committed rather than arresting and incarcerating people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Broadly, this bill seeks to prohibit an officer from arresting a person based solely on an alleged traffic offense, petty offense, municipal offense, misdemeanor offense, a class 4, 5, or 6 felony, or a level 3 or 4 drug felony. This prohibition is excepted by any statutory requirements for an arrest, the offense poses a significant threat to another person, or a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlikely to stop the criminal behavior. Other than these exceptions, an officer cannot arrest a person, and must instead issue a summons, thereby lowering the amount of people brought into jails. Law enforcement officers have already implemented processes such as this over the last year to reduce jail populations due to COVID-19, and this bill empowers them to continue to do so.

SB21-062 has been referred to the Appropriations Committee for further review.