Our jails are overcrowded and disproportionately filled with black and brown individuals. We believe that many of the individuals serving time in Denver are for non-violent crimes and would save tax payer dollars if they were gainfully employed and giving back to our society. Our office has already led the way in youth justice reform by decriminalizing possession of marijuana for anyone under 21 years of age. This legislation that was passed in 2012 and has prevented 1000 of young people from passing through the criminal justice system. Studies have shown that preventing young people from participating in the criminal justice system, they are less likely to be repeat offenders for more serious offences. Statistically offending rates decrease once young people reach the age of 26, by limiting their formal interactions with the system we increase their life chances of giving back to their community.
This year, I will work on developing a task force to focus on jail bed reduction in our system. By decreasing the amount of beds available we as a city will have to be more thoughtful in our pursuit of justice and restitution. I believe that the criminal justice system is not necessarily about punishment, but about restoring the community through thoughtful interactions with formal institutions.