Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper’s proposed $387 million justice center got initial approval yesterday from the City Council, the Denver Post reports. The issue may be submitted to voters May 3. “Right now, our people aren’t safe,” said City Councilman Michael Hancock, referring to corrections officers and prisoners. “There is a cost to justice. We either pay up now or in the future.” The propossal includes a 1,500-bed jail and 35 courtrooms.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said a new justice building was necessary to protect prosecutors and judges who are squeezed into small courtrooms with prisoners, as well as victims and victims’ families who often have no choice but to see the accused as he or she is transferred down public hallways. Morrissey said he has been spit on and attacked by a defendant convicted of first-degree murder. He said three Denver prosecutors have been attacked by prisoners in courtrooms in the past three years. Former public defender Francis Koncksa said the years of overcrowding have created terrible jail conditions. “We kennel our pets in better facilities than the prisoners,” Koncksa said.