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2017 Semiannual Report

Denver, Colorado – (October 11, 2017) Today, the Office of the Independent Monitor (“OIM”) released its 2017 Semiannual Report to the public.  The OIM is charged with monitoring the disciplinary systems in the Denver Police and Denver Sheriff Departments (“DPD” and “DSD,” respectively), making policy recommendations to those departments, and conducting outreach to communities throughout Denver.  By ordinance, the OIM is to report to the public each year on the work of the OIM, as well as information about complaints, investigations, and discipline of sworn police and sheriff personnel.  The OIM is led by Independent Monitor Nicholas E. Mitchell, and advised by a seven-member Citizen Oversight Board (“COB”).

The 2017 Semiannual Report includes information about the complaints received, closed and monitored by the OIM in 2017.  It also highlights a current request for proposal (“RFP”) issued by the City and County of Denver to replace the video visitation system in Denver’s two jails.  Under DSD policy, inmates are permitted to have visits with their families and friends only via telephone or video, and are not generally permitted to have in-person visits.  Instead, inmates sit at video terminals in the jail housing areas, and their loved ones communicate with them from corresponding video terminals in the jail lobbies. 

“There is powerful evidence that in-person visits—particularly between inmates and their children—keep inmates connected while they are in custody, which improves their psychological wellbeing, reduces their likelihood of violating jail rules, and decreases the chances that they will reoffend after they are released,” said Independent Monitor Mitchell.  In academic research cited by the Report, in-person visits were shown to reduce the likelihood of inmate recidivism by as much as 30%, with potentially larger reductions in violent crime.  In-person visits could be particularly impactful in Denver, where according to the DSD in 2012, one out of every two people released from Denver’s jails returns within one year.

“Before making a significant, long-term investment in a new video visitation system, the City should reconsider its exclusive video visitation approach and begin a process of reinstating in-person visits in Denver’s jails,” said Mr. Mitchell.  “It is not only the right thing to do; it would also lead to measurable benefits for inmates, their children, and our collective public safety.”

The full report can be found at www.denvergov.org/OIM.