Jail overcrowding becoming an issue in Denver

Jail overcrowding becoming an issue in Denver

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Denver – Colorado

In a plea last week Denver, Colorado Sheriff’s Deputies are asking for some relief because the jail is housing on average at least 1,500 inmates per day.

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The deputies say that the overcrowding is putting both them and inmates in danger.

Deputy Mike Britton, vice president of The Denver Sheriff Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #27, said that the deputies pleas for relief have fallen on deaf ears so they have decided to make their concerns public.

To give you some background, deputies take on the responsibility of sorting and housing inmates based upon the inmate’s crime (s), gang-affiliation, gender as well as other factors.  

Obviously that can become difficult or problematic when faced with overcrowded conditions at the jail.

As a whole this is a systematic problem because our judicial system has a nasty habit of incarcerating the poor for failing to pay fines that exceed incomes, fines that are assigned to someone who is homeless or jobless, classes the poor must pay for that they cannot afford, so they skip them and things like community service which takes time from the honest attempting to seek gainful employment.

The system’s focus is not rehabilitate to prevent crime but to make money off of the crime.

If it’s true focus were to actually prevent crime and rehabilitate it would be working towards that and not against it.

The other issue happens to be city council policies which require police to arrest individuals for petty offenses or issue citations for said petty offenses, which in turn then lead to ridiculous sentencing practices.

Let’s not forget those suffering from mental illness that are housed in jail. They should not be housed in jail and not one Judge sitting on any bench is qualified to sentence someone who suffers any mental illness unless they have committed the act of murder.

If the offense is petty the mentally ill should not be sentenced to fines, classes or community service as that only serves to further exacerbate the illness the individual faces.

I’ve personally clerked for Judges who cared less about the individual standing in front of them and sentenced someone the mentally ill for no other reason that it was that municipalities policy to punish the individual for petty offenses, those who were sentenced were the mentally handicapped, a woman who had hoarding disorder and a man who had dementia who had no idea what he had done.

The list could go on and on with the inhumane injustices that I witnessed during my tenure working for a Judge.

To fix the overcrowding we need to change policy and that starts with our judicial system not the sheriff’s who are reaping that which the system has sewn.

Cristal M Clark

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