Lisa Pope and Rob Squire have been attempting to meet with State Senator Julie Gonzales who is the Senator for Senate District 34 (Denver). We were unable to meet with her, but we attended a meeting on March 3, 2022 that was scheduled for 15 minutes with her aide Curt Baker. The meeting actually lasted 30 minutes.
Frankly, this meeting had limited benefit. We initially asked for information on HB19-1263 which was the bill that de-felonized the possession of less than 4 grams of hard drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, and cocaine. Denver law enforcement has indicated that this law has provided a way for drug dealers to avoid arrest, and we wanted to understand the rationale behind the passage of this bill. However, Mr. Baker was unaware of the bill, whether Senator Gonzales voted for it, or her inclination to support amendments to it.
We then discussed SB22-041 which would have made it more difficult to allow people to be released on Personal Recognizance (PR) Bonds. A PR Bond does not require any monetary bond be paid by the individual, and therefore removes any financial penalty for failure to appear in court. This bill was recently killed in the Judiciary Committee of which Senator Gonzales is a member. Mr. Baker indicated that it was eliminated because they had no data on the re-arrest rate for people on PR Bonds. The Safety and QOL Committee has been told by several members of law enforcement that people have commonly been re-arrested after being released on PR bonds, sometimes several times in the same day. That makes it difficult to understand why that data would be hard to obtain. We would have preferred a meeting with the Senator so that she could have clarified this point.
The committee will continue to try to schedule a meeting with Senator Gonzales personally.