Joshua J. Luna


Interest in bail reform has ebbed and flowed in the United States since the 1960s. Recently, a condemning look at bail administration and pretrial detention across various jurisdictions has pushed bail reform to the policy forefront at both the national and state levels. In 2013, Colorado's General Assembly reformed its bail statute to decrease reliance on monetary bail and promote pretrial services programs in an attempt to prevent unnecessary pretrial detention of low-income defendants who present low risks for flight and threat to community safety. This reform was a much-needed step in the right direction. But the new bail statute allows courts, which are too accustomed to equating bail with money under the old statute, to impose monetary bail, even in cases involving low-risk defendants. This problem has led to the initiation of lawsuits, like Mares v. Denver County Court, to prevent courts from imposing monetary bail unnecessarily. The Colorado General Assembly should enact further reform that creates a presumption of release on unsecured personal recognizance bonds and imposes monetary bonds only if it is demonstrated that the individual poses a high risk of flight or threat to community safety. Such reform would achieve the General Assembly's 2013 goals by ensuring community safety and preventing unnecessary pretrial detention of lowrisk defendants.

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