WELD COUNTY, Colorado (CBS4) – While many people in Colorado are concerned about the early release of detainees on bail, a local sheriff has decided to take action in an effort to increase transparency. Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams announced Monday afternoon that his agency will now publish not only the names, birthdays and charges of those released on bail.
However, they would also include the amount of bail and the name of the judge who ordered the release. Weld County Jail staff, including Jail Captain Matt Turner, expressed support for the new information posted on the Sheriff’s website.
“When a person is released from prison, the first question the community is going to ask is, ‘Why did this person get out and who released them? ‘” Turner told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas from inside the Weld County Jail.
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CBS4’s team of reporters covered many stories about rising concerns about many inmates with violent histories or charges made public with relatively weak obligations.
In 2020, CBS4’s Dillon Thomas told the story of a Windsor man facing multiple charges, including child abuse, and was released early from Weld County Jail by court order. Police later said he strangled his ex-girlfriend days after he was released from jail early. He was later arrested after allegedly escaping the police.
Many inmates were released early on low bail levels during the pandemic through state and court orders, initially intended to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. However, with the world largely returning to lifestyles similar to those before the pandemic, the Weld County Sheriff’s Office says it has seen early versions hold steady as crime increases.
Many cities and counties across the state of Colorado have reported sharp increases in crime rates. Turner compared the current statistics to those of the crime rate the year before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Property crime is up 25%, violent crime is up 31%,” Turner said. “Auto theft is up 94% in Weld County. It’s dramatic. That’s why they ask, ‘Crime is on the rise, why are we releasing people?’ »
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Due to questions they were receiving from the public, the Sheriff’s Office chose to provide more information on their website about who is associated with the releases.
“Sheriff Reams frequently gets questions from the community about why people are getting out of jail so quickly,” Turner said. “Prison is not responsible for releasing people. We hold them and release them when ordered to do so.
Now, those who visit the Sheriff’s Daily Inmate Released Report website can see the name, date of birth, charges, bond type, bond amount, and even the name of the judge who presided over the bail hearing. bail for the former inmate.
“It’s about being transparent. It’s about why that person is being brought back into the community,” Turner said.
More transparency is something the Weld County Sheriff and Courts both told CBS4 they support. However, the extent and method of doing so has not been mutually agreed upon.
In a written statement to CBS4, 19th Judicial District Chief Judge James F. Hartmann said the information was already public, but most people never ask for it.
“Our courtrooms are open to the public and we fully support transparency regarding bail and bail conditions set by all our bailiffs. All persons charged with a criminal offense are presumed innocent and with the presumption of innocence comes the constitutional right to obtain bail and the ability to post bail while the charge is pending, except of a few designated charges such as first degree murder,” the spokesperson wrote. “In Weld County, bail for persons charged with a felony at a bail hearing is done on an individual basis after the court officer has considered all statutory factors, facts contained in the affidavit of arrest without warrant, as well as consideration of statements entered into the record by counsel representing both the prosecution and the defence. We also receive and review information contained in bail reports prepared by Weld County Pretrial Services for felony and misdemeanor charges.
While bond information is determined in court, cases that are open to the public, as the courts have noted, most are never released unless they are part of a matter of community interest. significant or in the media.
“To achieve true and complete transparency, we encourage Sheriff Reams to include information about all bond hearings held each day, not just a few,” the spokesperson wrote. “The public is always welcome and invited to attend court hearings, including bond hearings, in person at the Weld County Courthouse during the weekdays.”