The amount of money Colorado spends incarcerating people is unconscionable.  Colorado spends more money incarcerating Coloradans (per inmate, per year) than educating Colorado’s children (K-12 education – per student, per year).  The system is unsustainable and immediate steps must be taken to reform the criminal justice system while still ensuring protections for victims.  As the Vice Chair of the Colorado House Judiciary committee and as a civil rights attorney, Joe has passed the following legislation to reform our criminal justice system:
  • Joe rid the state of the unconstitutional practice of Debtors Prisons in 2014.  Debtors Prisons is an archaic system that jails poor people because they cannot pay a court fine or cost.  Joe championed HB14-1061 to eliminate this practice, reducing the incarceration rate in our jails.  The bill passed out of both chamber with wide bipartisan support.
  • Prior to 2014, the Department of Corrections held inmates with serious mental health conditions in solitary confinement.  This practice hurt society when these inmates were released into society without any social integration skills. Working with Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, Joe stopped this bad practice with the bipartisan passage of SB14-064.
  • Many of the problems associated with probation are unforgiving rules that create barriers to success.  Joe corrected one problem involving the use of medical marijuana for probationers.  With huge bipartisan support, Joe passed HB15-1267, which allows probationers to use medical marijuana while on probation.
  • Joe believes that people suffering from a mental health crises should receive help without being incarcerated.  With the bipartisan sponsored and passage of SB17-207, Joe has ensured that Colorado now provides additional resource to help Coloradans suffering from a mental health crises without incarceration.
  • Best evidence and practices show that individualized conditions of parole help reduce incarceration numbers and costs while preserving public safety.  With wide bipartisan support, Joe passed HB17-1308, which allows for individualized conditions of parole.  It is projected that with the passage of this bill, Colorado will realize a cost savings in the millions of dollars, which will then be rolled into other restorative justice programs.
  • Joe is adamantly opposed to the private prison industry.  He calls the industry the “Great Immoral Dragon of our time.  A flesh for profit business.  A modern day slavery.”  Each year, Joe targets the private prison industry for elimination in the state of Colorado.


As Attorney General, Joe will partner with Colorado district attorneys, public defenders, victim advocates, and others to reduce the cost of incarceration while preserving public safety.