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Why a broad-based camp supports Colorado drug-possession reform

We noted in our immediately preceding Shazam Kianpour & Associates blog post that there is a viewpoint in Colorado that resists downgrading some drug possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.

We discussed that view in our September 3 entry. In doing so, we further noted that it is far from being a unanimous opinion.

In fact, there is deep and widespread support among the public for the reform measure, for many expressed reasons.

A core reason why many people endorse the so-called “defelonization” of drug charges links to statistical proofs addressing prison outcomes for low-level offenders, many who suffer from addiction. Reams of empirical evidence underscore that addicts are not effectively treated while behind bars. As a result, their reoffending rate (recidivism) is troublingly high when they complete their sentences and return to their communities.

“We’ve got to stop investing in incarceration and start investing in treatment,” says a Colorado lawmaker who sponsored defelonization legislation slated to take effect early next year.

That view is exponentially increasing among individuals and reform groups across Colorado. Proponents of the new legislation increasingly note that prisons are problematic venues for responding to addiction and mental health issues. Further, lock-up strategies ultimately cost taxpayers far more than do prison-alternative treatment programs.

Reportedly, about 120 individuals convicted of possession offenses were housed in Colorado prisons on an “average” day last year. Government corrections officials state that the number will materially spike absent defelonization reform.

We will keep readers duly informed of any key details that emerge concerning the reform legislation as it nears its effective date.

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