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Sentencing

After an individual is found guilty of a crime, a judge imposes a sentence which may include fees, fines, community service, probation, jail, community corrections, or prison. The prosecutor and defense attorney on the case provide recommendations to the judge, who decides on the ultimate sentence. This section presents information on sentencing by the most severe sentence imposed on the case. 

Why is this important? It is important to ensure sentences minimize unnecessary punitiveness while appropriately addressing serious crime. In addition, we want to treat all individuals fairly and equitably.











Indicators

Below are a set of indicators that provide additional context about sentencing. These indicators help the DA's Office ensure they are ensuring fairness in the type and severity of sentences imposed, reducing unnecessary pretrial detention, and avoiding unwarranted incarceration without compromising public safety.



Community Corrections or COMCOR programs are available across the state. They allow prison inmates to transition back into the community before they are paroled or give criminal defendants a chance to live in the community with intensive supervision as an alternative to prison. COMCOR offers more robust and timely rehabilitative programming compared to prison. Programs include in-patient drug and alcohol treatment, addiction therapy, cognitive therapy, sex offender treatment, and employment and life skills coaching, to name only a few. Typically, a person sent to COMCOR is required to live at the facility and may only leave to look for work, to work, or attend required classes. If successful, the person can earn the ability to live away from the facility under supervision akin to probation. Each defendant must apply for and be approved by a local board of citizens before being admitted.



Deferred judgements offer an opportunity for a criminal defendant who does not pose a community safety risk to avoid a permanent criminal conviction on the contingency of successfully completing certain obligations. There are many reasons why a person may be offered a deferral including, the person's age and criminal history, the seriousness of the offense, the goals and desires of the crime victim, and whether rehabilitative and therapeutic goals can be met.



As stated in our discussion of the "Case Filing Differences by Defendant Race/Ethnicity" indicator, it has been a challenge to collect accurate race and ethnicity information about our Hispanic citizens. Until we develop a more accurate way of collecting this data, it should be viewed with caution.

As stated in our discussion of the "Deferred Judgement Differences by Race/Ethnicity" indicator, a cause of disparity in this category may be attributable to the interplay between prosecutorial duties and the role of federal immigration authorities. If a Hispanic suspect remained in custody on a releasable offense due to a Federal immigration hold or was in the process of being deported, the individual would likely serve significant pretrial detention which would be used by the prosecution in analyzing how to resolve the case.

In 2019 the Colorado legislature passed HB19-1124 restricting the Federal government's ability to enforce civil immigration detainers in criminal cases. Since the passage of this bill, the disparity between Hispanic and White individuals in this indicator has significantly decreased.

Our aim is to achieve racial/ethnic equity in plea outcomes to ensure that the vast majority of cases receive fair treatment. The District Attorney's Office acknowledges that significant disparities in this category exist. This is a high priority and important indicator for our office to monitor and take action to eliminate disparity.

It is not possible to examine incarceration rates for Black individuals and individuals of Another Race due to the low number of cases. Click Here for more information about race and ethnicity data collection and limitations.



Public Defender Qualification: In Colorado, incarcerated defendants are automatically appointed a public defender for as long as they remain in custody. Out-of-custody defendants must apply and meet federal indigence requirements to qualify for a public defender. Therefore, there is the potential for public defenders to be representing individuals accused of more serious crimes.

Pretrial Detention Indicators

Below are a set of indicators that provide additional context about pretrial detention, incarceration in jail prior to case resolution. These indicators help the DA's Office ensure the reduction of unnecessary pretrial detention.



There are many reasons why a person may be subject to pretrial detention, such as an arrest for a crime committed in the presence of a law enforcement officer, the issuances of an arrest warrant, crimes mandating arrest like domestic violence, failures to appear in court, and whether there is evidence the person is a flight or community safety risk.

While a prosecutor is responsible for arguing whether an individual should or should not remain in custody, the judge is responsible for making the final determination. We will continue to monitor this indicator and make pretrial release recommendations to promote public safety and to ensure individuals make it to their court appearances.



As stated in our discussion of the "Case Filing Differences by Defendant Race/Ethnicity" indicator, it has been a challenge to collect accurate race and ethnicity information about our Hispanic citizens. Until we develop a more accurate way of collecting this data, it should be viewed with caution.

As stated in our discussion of the "Deferred Judgement Differences by Race/Ethnicity" indicator, a cause of disparity in this category may be attributable to the interplay between prosecutorial duties and the role of federal immigration authorities. If a Hispanic suspect remained in custody on a releasable offense due to a Federal immigration hold or was in the process of being deported, the individual would likely serve significant pretrial detention.

In 2019 the Colorado legislature passed HB19-1124 restricting the Federal government's ability to enforce civil immigration detainers in criminal cases. Since the passage of this bill, there has been a marked decrease in the disparity between Hispanic and White individuals.

Our aim is to achieve racial/ethnic equity in plea outcomes to ensure that the vast majority of cases receive fair treatment. The District Attorney's Office acknowledges that significant disparities in this category exist. This is a high priority and important indicator for our office to monitor and take action to eliminate disparity.

It is not possible to examine pretrial detention rates for Black individuals and individuals of Another Race due to the low number of cases. Click Here for more information about race and ethnicity data collection and limitations.

Notes:

  • This data reflects only those cases where a sentence was ultimately imposed. Cases that resulted in diversion, an outright dismissal, or some other resolution, are not reflected here. 
  • This data represents initial sentences only, sometimes a case may have a subsequent sentence in cases because of a revocation of probation or due to a request to modify the sentence. Those subsequent sentences are not represented here.
  • Warrants are excluded (for all cases identified as a warrant).