Colorado law-enforcement officials have criticized a proposal to ease prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders as a “sound-bite” solution to the state’s complicated budget problems, reports the Denver Post. A group that included county sheriffs, a police chief and a district attorney dismissed a call for lighter prison sentences as too dangerous. Don Quick, district attorney for Adams County, said the state has already cut funding to programs that prevent drug use and to treat parolees who had drug problems.
In February, the Independence Institute estimated that Colorado could save up to $41.6 million by diverting nonviolent drug offenders from prison. The estimated savings in the sentencing proposal is a small fraction of the $408 million in budget cuts the state will have to make if voters reject Referendums C and D, say projections by Henry Sobanet, Gov. Bill Owens’ budget director.