Bail Bond
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Document for release of prisoner, Bail Bond

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The Colorado Senate voted unanimously on two significant criminal justice bills Monday, one that would do away with bail for minor offenses and another that keeps colleges from asking applicants for admission about their criminal history.

House Bill 1225 would mean that people don’t spend time in jail for most Class 3 misdemeanors. The legislation heads to the governor, who could sign it into law. The aim of the bill is to keep from jailing people — at a high cost to taxpayers — simply because they are too poor to pay bail for such infractions as using a fake driver’s license, prostitution or public urination, for which, ultimately, the fines could be as little as $50.

The legislation carves out exceptions for extenuating circumstances that make the offenses more severe.

House Bill 1225 was sponsored by Reps. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and Matt Soper, R-Delta, with Sens. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, and Paul Lundeen, R-Monument.

“Our bail system is unfair to many offenders who are not a danger to our communities, but who have to remain in jail because they can’t afford even minimal cash bail,” Lee said in a statement Monday. “This change is a crucial part of making our criminal justice system more equitable for all Coloradans.”

SB 170, which blocks colleges and universities from asking applicants about their criminal or disciplinary histories, bounces to the House, with 25 days before adjournment.

The bill is sponsored by Herod with Sens. Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver, and Jack Tate, R-Centennial.

“A college degree is important in today’s world, and we want to make sure that every Coloradan who applies to college is judged on their merits, not their past mistakes,” Rodriguez stated.

“Banning the box on college applications will allow colleges and universities to fairly examine each application and increase opportunity for everyone, particularly children of color, LGBTQ youth and students living in poverty.”

The bill has exceptions for convictions for stalking, sexual assault and domestic violence.

The bill is referred to as “ban the box,” similar to legislation that prevents prospective employers from asking job candidates about their criminal history in most cases.

Contact Joey Bunch at joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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