Rounding Out Reform Efforts

Colorado’s reform commission supplements other state efforts underway

The Colorado Supreme Court announced March 5 the formation of a commission to examine and recommend possible reform to bail practices around the state. The initiative is part of a larger push for bail reform around the U.S., and marks the beginning of judicial participation in Colorado’s own reform measures that date back several years.

Eighteenth District Chief Judge Carlos Samour, who will chair the commission, said he first got involved in bail reform when he attended a regional conference of chief judges and state court administrators a few years back and heard about bail reform practices some states have examined and implemented.

“There’s a trend around the country to look at bail issues and to try and improve it, so I was energized and motivated after that meeting to try to do something,” Samour said. He explained bail has two goals: to make sure people show up for their court dates and also to protect the public.

Various states have examined bail reform approaches that maintain defendants’ right to pretrial release under most circumstances while also protecting the public. In 2016, voters in New Mexico approved a constitutional amendment that allows courts to deny bail to people charged with felonies if the defendant is deemed a public threat. Conversely, the measure also ensures courts can’t deny defendants bail because of financial inability to post bond.

To read this story and other complete articles featured in the March 19, 2017 print edition of Law Week Colorado, copies are available for purchase online