Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill Monday March 23, 2020 abolishing the death penalty in Colorado. This has been an effort led by criminal justice reformers since 2007. Polis also commuted the sentences of three men currently on death row. Seldom used since the death penalty was reinstated in Colorado in the 1970's, the only person executed since was Gary Davis, convicted of rape and murder, in 1997. Colorado is now the 22nd state to eliminate the death penalty.
The most heinous criminal offenders among us can still be punished and kept out of the community forever by receiving a life sentence without the possibility of parole, tax payers save money on a failed and wasteful bureaucracy, and it can no longer be used to unfairly and disproportionately target the disenfranchised, minorities, and people of color. Our criminal justice system is imperfect and death, by its very nature, is final. Consider this: according to the ACLU, Since 1973, over 156 death row inmates have been released due to factual innocence. How many other innocent people slipped through the cracks and were killed because of this practice: one is enough.
We have decided as a society that murder is wrong. We have decided as a society that two wrongs don't make a right. Yet state sponsored killing continues around this country.
Starting March 1, 2020, a new offense classification scheme is in place for drug possession cases in Colorado.
The effect? Small possession cases (those that involve 4 grams or less) of schedule I and II drugs (some common examples are methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, fentaynl, and prescribed narcotic pain medication) are now a drug misdemeanor (DM1), instead of a drug felony (DF4).
The bill also prohibits a prosecutor from charging you with possession for a minuscule amount that is found within a syringe, baggie, or other paraphernalia.
Further, The bill makes possession of more than 6 ounces of marijuana or more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate a level 1 drug misdemeanor and makes possession of 3 ounces or less of marijuana concentrate a level 2 drug misdemeanor.
To be clear, if elements or indication of possession with intent to sell are present, prosecutors can and will pursue felony charges. The purpose of this change is to reduce the amount of personal use addicts and offenders who have ended up in the Colorado prison system and to refocus efforts on rehabilitation.
The above is meant only as a summary, and the law can be found and read in full here: HB19-1263
Matthew S. GOLd
Owner and Attorney at Gold Law, L.L.C.
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