New bond law 'reasonable,' Sheriff Matt Lewis says

MATT LEWIS Mesa County Sheriff

Another measure passed during the 2019 legislative session and signed into law aims to implement specific time requirements when it comes to criminal suspects posting bond and then eventually being released.

SB 191 — dubbed the Prompt Pretrial Liberty and Fairness act — says Colorado law enforcement agencies must allow suspects to post bond within two hours of them receiving bond information from the courts. It additionally mandates that suspects be released within four hours after bond has been posted.

The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, isn't one that will have a huge impact on local jail operations, Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis said.

"I think these things are reasonable for us, and most of this we are already doing now," Lewis said, about the new two- and four-hour requirements. "We have met with our staff, and we believe that we're meeting that today."

Where it could get a little dicey, Lewis said, is after long holiday weekends, especially ones where lots of arrests are made. Often, dozens of arrests on long weekends like that mean a processing backup for folks on the Tuesday after they appear in court.

"It may pose some difficulties for us. What we will do in these cases is assign more staff, and we'll just shift resources around," he said.

"We'll have to be able to forecast that a little bit" and make adjustments as the new law unfolds, Lewis said, adding that he doesn't see it as having a significant impact.

The law as originally written included a requirement that bond be set for all in-custody defendants within 48 hours of arrest. The law enforcement lobby, though, was able to successfully change that portion of the new law so that now each jurisdiction simply must submit a formal study about the costs of implementing the idea.

There is no weekend court in Mesa County, but there will need to be again if the 48-hour rule eventually comes to pass.

"I expect if we get to the point of weekend arraignments again that the Sheriff's Office will have an incurred cost to staff the courthouse," Lewis said. "(But) that's not scary to us. We've been there before."

Local Reps. Janice Rich and Matt Soper, both Republicans, voted for the new law. State Sen. Ray Scott, also a Republican, voted against it.

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