HB24-1054 - Jail Standards Commission Recommendations

HB24-1054 – Jail Standards Commission Recommendations
Effective Date: Was signed into law by the Governor and took effect on June 03, 2024
Bill Page / Signed Act / Last Fiscal Note

The bill requires jails to follow jail standards established by the Legislative Oversight Committee for Colorado Jail Standards (oversight committee), with enforcement provided through a combination of the newly created Jail Standards Advisory Committee (advisory committee), the Attorney General, and the Colorado Department of Public Safety (CDPS), as described below.

Jail standards and advisory committee. Beginning July 1, 2026, the bill requires each county jail to comply with standards adopted by the oversight committee, and within one year when standards are revised. The CDPS must contract with the County Sheriffs of Colorado to create the advisory committee, which will include two sheriffs, two county commissioners, the State Public Defender or their designee, a physical or behavioral health professional with experience working in jails, and a representative of a statewide organization for persons experiencing incarceration. The advisory committee must:

  • assess jails using peer assessors to ensure compliance with standards in cooperation with the Attorney General;
  • complete jail assessment reports;
  • approve variance requests from standards; and,
  • make recommendations to the oversight committee on any legislation that would support compliance.

The advisory committee must begin meeting in July 2024 and must plan informal assessments of jails to begin in January 2025. Each jail must be assessed at least once every five years.

Attorney General. The bill clarifies that the Attorney General may investigate patterns or practices for noncompliance of jails with jail standards. In addition, the Attorney General may—in collaboration with the advisory committee or at the request of the Governor, the oversight committee, or a sheriff—conduct assessments of jails to identify gaps and deficiencies in the standards. After the assessment, the Attorney General must provide a report to the relevant sheriff, the oversight committee, the Board of County Commissioners, the County Sheriffs of Colorado, and the Governor that outlines methodology, relevant data, recommendations, and technical assistance to meet the standards. The Attorney General may also provide technical assistance and recommendations to the sheriff to comply with standards.

Legislative committees. The bill continues the oversight committee and allows the Commission on Jail Standards to repeal. The oversight committee may introduce three bills during a regular legislative session that are exempt from member bill limits and not subject to the interim bill approval process. The committee will also consider any reports or recommendations submitted by the advisory committee. The committee repeals on September 1, 2033, after a sunset review.

Department of Public Safety. In addition to contracting with sheriffs to establish the advisory committee, the CDPS must also maintain a dashboard of the basic findings of jail assessments and create, maintain, and update a list of funding assistance to help jails meet standards. The bill creates the Jail Standards Advisory Committee Cash Fund for use by the CDPS to cover expenses of the advisory committee.

Open records. Finally, the bill exempts jails assessments from the definition of public records under the Colorado Open Records Act.