DENVER, Colo. (KRDO) - A newly formed state committee is setting forth new standards for jails in Colorado, in the hopes of addressing a lack of consistent standards for security, and treatment of their inmates.
KRDO13 Investigates has reported extensively on the topic, most recently shining light on the fact the state's jails face issues both structurally and financially, to run properly.
As a result, the state created the "Legislative Oversight Committee for Colorado Jail Standards", which has just advanced a bill with standards to apply to both large and small prisons, across the state.
Their goal is to help inmates and their access to health care, addiction services, discipline, housing, and more.
"We have so many people in our jails that have mental illness and they're not getting adequate treatment because jail isn't set up for that." explains Democratic Representative from Boulder, Judy Amabile.
Previously, KRDO13 Investigates spoke with the Fremont County Sheriff, who's one of two Sheriffs in the state chosen to be part of that committee. According to the bill, the committee also consists of:
- 2 county commissioners appointed by Colorado counties, incorporated;
- The state public defender or the state public defender's designee;
- One physical or behavioral health professional with experience working in a jail appointed by the oversight committee; and
- One person representing a statewide organization that advocates on behalf of people experiencing incarceration is appointed by the oversight committee.
Amabile previously said she's "very optimistic" that they are going to get their bills passed, and are going to implement the recommendations of the commission, and are "going to keep working".
Now that fate lies in the state capitol during the 2025 legislative session.
In the bill, county sheriffs will have their jails assessed according to the new standards, and will likely see a sliding scale of sorts based on the size of the jail.
Fremont County Sheriff Alan Cooper explains however that those standards won't be met without some funding help, saying it would have to come from the state; because smaller counties, like his own, will not be able to keep up due to their budgets.
"There's still a lot more work to do. So we'll be working on it in the next sort of phase of this thing, on funding and then implementation and enforcement," explained Amabile.