Senate Bill 11-241, recently introduced in the Colorado Senate, seeks to implement several different changes to the operation of the Colorado Parole Board.
Specifically, the bill requires that Parole Board members have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, at least five years experience in a relevant field, and knowledge of issues related to parole. Also, the bill requires each Parole Board member to complete a minimum of twenty hours of training annually.
The bill also makes modifications to the special needs parole program, insofar as it redefines what constitutes a special needs offender. It allows inmates convicted of violent offenses (except for those who are not eligible for parole) to be considered for special need parole if they meet the other criteria. However, it does require that people convicted of a class 1 felony committed prior to 1990 (who have a parole eligibility date) serve a minimum of 20 years before eligibility for consideration for special needs parole. The bill does allow DOC to refer an inmate to the Parole Board for special needs parole at any point and specifies what must be included in the referral, including a review of the inmate’s medical condition, likelihood of re-offense, a recommendation, any victim input received, and details of the parole plan.
Additionally, the bill creates a presumption of parole for inmates that meet eligibility criteria and have an ICE detainer. In order to be eligible for this presumption of parole an inmate must: (1) be parole eligible; (2) have been convicted of a nonviolent offense; (3) be assessed to be medium or low risk of re-offense; and (4) have an active ICE detainer that ICE will execute if the inmate is granted parole. If an inmate meets these criteria, only a majority vote of the Board can deny parole. A condition of parole must be that ICE take custody of the inmate. If ICE withdraws its detainer or indicates that it will not take the inmate into custody, the Parole Board must conduct a recission hearing to reconsider granting of parole.