Race and the Colorado Criminal Justice System

Published: February 15, 2017 в 7:05 pm


Jail cells with the doors closed at a histororic idaho prison | Race and the Colorado Criminal Justice System

At a time when injustices in our society are taking front stage, race continues to play an important role in Colorado’s criminal process. Blacks, Latinos and other minorities are incarcerated at an astonishing rate – compared to their actual numbers in the general population. According to the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, blacks accounted for a disproportionate number of citations, arrests, and imprisonments in 2015.

While blacks represent only 4.2 percent of the state’s population, they accounted for 12.4 percent of summonses and arrests in Colorado in 2015, according to a report for the state’s judicial system. Black men and women are also more apt to receive prison sentences than other ethnic groups.

This report looked at race and the Colorado criminal justice system, and was compiled by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice as part of the 2015 Community Law Enforcement Action Reporting Act in an effort to better understand the statewide relationship between race and the criminal justice system.

The report examined over 325,000 summonses, arrests, and parole hearings. According to the report, it is blacks who are more often arrested for major crimes including assault, robbery, homicide, aggravated assault, and offenses involving weapons.

In contrast to other races and ethnicities, black juveniles are more apt to be sent to one of the state’s youth detention facilities. In 2015, Colorado had 20,304 inmates and 9,134 parolees. Blacks represented 18% of the inmates – even though they were just 4% of the population.

A research director for the Department of Public Safety in Colorado and lead author of the report, Kim English, said in a statement that none of the data points to a definitive explanation for the disparities.

Further Reading: The Threat of Improper Improper Prosecutions and Wrongful Convictions

English hopes the analysis can be used by Colorado decision makers to help the state’s criminal judicial system better serve the citizens. The release of the report coincides with a time when race and its correlation to the criminal justice system are being scrutinized at a local and national level.

The report also found that, overall, women were more apt to be given a deferred sentence and less apt to be sentenced to jail time. Women were more often involved in property offenses rather than drug or violent crimes. According to the report, 70 to 80 percent of the total number of arrests in Colorado were of men or boys. However, both black men and black women were released by a parole board less often than any other race or ethnicity.

The Colorado Department of Public Safety did issue one warning to anyone looking at this information- while law enforcement and parole collect information on ethnicity, only information about race is collected by the Judicial Department. Therefore, in court-related statistics, Hispanic defendants are categorized as white.

A 2014 report showed that blacks in Colorado were 6x more likely than white adults to be incarcerated. Latino adults were more than one and a half times more likely to be arrested and jailed. Why? Experts cite widely acknowledged discrimination within the criminal justice system. Other experts cite failures in public schools and in minority neighborhoods.

For example, according to a Rocky Mountain PBS News analysis, only 66 percent of Latino students and 70 percent of black students graduate from Colorado high schools.

Experts note, that while the evaluation is an integral step toward equity in law enforcement, courtrooms, and prisons, deeper analysis and perhaps more information is necessary before any serious measures can be implemented.

Contact Our Boulder Criminal Defense Lawyers

Boulder Criminal Defense Attorney Steven LouthIf you or someone you love has been arrested and charged with a crime in Boulder or anywhere in the State of Colorado, it is important to retain the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. Contact the Boulder criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303) 422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.





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