2018 session legislative progress on criminal justice reform

  • SB 185 requires that Pardon and Parole Board members be trained according to national standards of evidence-based practice, and that two members of the board have professional experience in the field of substance abuse and/or mental health treatment.
  • SB 649 removes certain property offenses from the habitual offender enhancement so that people charged with those crimes will no longer be subject to mandatory minimum or life sentences. It also makes it so that prior convictions for possession of a controlled substance can no longer be used to enhance new sentences.
  • SB 650 expands opportunities for those convicted of nonviolent offenses by bringing record expungement requirements more in line with those of other states.
  • SB 689 caps the length of incarceration for technical violations of probation at six months and makes it so people can no longer be incarcerated for failure to pay fines and fees. It also allows people serving life without parole sentences for nonviolent crimes to petition for sentence modification.
  • SB 786 carves out breaking into a vehicle from burglary of a home or business and provides a lesser sentence for the less serious conduct.
  • SB 793 reduces the penalties for commercial drug offenses. For example, people convicted of low-level sale or possession with intent to distribute for the first time will now be subject to a 0-7 year sentence instead of 2 years-life.
  • SB 1021 removes the presumption that posting bail means an individual is not indigent for the purpose of qualifying for a publicly-funded attorney. This allows people to bond out of jail without losing their constitutional right to representation.
  • HB 2281 creates a tiered penalty structure for felony property offenses by value, establishing more severe penalties for higher-value property offenses and brings down the maximum sentence for first time, low-level theft offenses to three years.
  • HB 2286 streamlines the parole process for people convicted of nonviolent offenses who comply with their case plans while in prison and makes them eligible for parole at 25% instead of 33%. This administrative parole process will be available to people currently in prison who are parole eligible.

Impact: These bills together are expected to avert two-thirds of the projected prison population growth over the next ten years if implemented fully.