Crime rate in Colorado soars
According to a recent report violent crime has increased by 30% over the last decade in Colorado. The report produced by the Common Sense Institute a non-partisan research organization also showed Colorado had the highest increase in property crime rate between 2011 and 2020 in the nation.
The report published last month acknowledged the fact pandemic-related policies and restrictions that resulted in economic disruptions brought further stress to society as a whole which “exacerbated problems related to crime,” but also concluded according to the authors who include former Colorado District Attorneys Mitch Morrissey and George Brauchler that, “The primary and consistent policy trend in Colorado has been to discourage the jailing for those arrested for committing crimes and to reduce the severity of punishment for those convicted.”
From data reported by the FBI, there were a total of 164,582 property crimes reported in Colorado in 2020. Adjusting for population, there were 2,834 property crimes for every 100,000 people, the third-highest property crime rate among states and higher than the national rate of 1,958 per 100,000 people. The only states with a higher rate per 100,00 people were New Mexico with 2,842 property crimes and Louisiana with 2,884. In comparison, the state with the fewest property crimes was Massachusetts with 1,053 per 100,000.
The average monthly crime rate in Colorado was 15% higher in 2021 than in 2019 and 28% higher than it was a decade ago. The violent crime rate spiked 35% over the figure from 2011. Nationally, the increase was just 3%, according to a report.
The authors conclude that providing people an easier pathway for leaving the system of incarceration and becoming productive members of society are worthy goals, but consequences to the community need to be evaluated. Statistics that highlight this concern include the parole rates for serious felonies more than doubled for each class of felony including a 313% increase in parole being granted to those who committed class 5 felonies.
The Colorado legislature in 2021 made two major actions that will go into effect this spring. Senate Bill 21-271, reduces sentences for misdemeanors–no matter the nature–to 364 days, a full year less than what was previously in place. The other, House Bill 21-1280, restricts how long someone can be held in custody before a bond hearing. Another measure cited as a contributing factor to rising crimes rates is a bill signed in 2019 by Governor Jared Polis which reduced drug possession charges from a felony to a misdemeanor, including fentanyl-related charges.
Critics of the report state it doesn’t take into account other known causes of crime including housing insecurity, job loss, the opioid crisis and the closing of after school programs all issues exacerbated by the pandemic.
The report stated that between 2008 and 2021, through June 30, the population in the corrections system, including parolees and youth offenders, was down 23%, or more than 8,000 individuals, in the last 10 years numbers which don’t correlate with the rise in crime. Department of Corrections prisons had 33% percent fewer inmates or nearly 7,700 individuals. The 2020 census also showed the population of the state has grown by more than 700,000 people over the last decade.
The entire report titled “The Colorado Crime Wave: An Economic Analysis of Crime and the Need for Data Driven Solutions” can be read in its entirety at commonsenseinstituteco.org.
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