“The discouraging part is seeing these same people over and over again,” Greenwell said. “What’s to dissuade them from stealing another car?”
Haskins, Glendale’s chief of police, said he feels like his hands are tied much of the time.
“We’re too often being forced to release people on personal recognizance bonds,” he said. “The people who put forward this legislation have the best of intentions but the unintended consequence of the bills is that it has reduced our ability to get people to stop committing these crimes.”
Mitch Morrissey, a former Denver prosecutor and a fellow at the Common Sense Institute, shared similar concerns with legislators before the start of this year’s session through a report on crime trends he helped author.
His publication received little interest at the state Capitol, he said.
What he found is that since 2008, the state prison population has gone down by 23% while crime has increased by 47%. Of those arrested in Denver last year, 65% had at least one prior arrest since 2018 while nearly a third had five or more arrests in that time.
Yet, Denver has increased the use of personal recognizance bonds by 61% over the last two years, the Common Sense Institute report concluded. In 2020, Denver courts issued nearly 600 $0, $1 or $2 bonds — a sharp increase over levels in previous years.
“The cars are getting stolen and there’s no accountability for it,” said Morrissey, a lifelong Democrat. “Guys are back on the street the next day and committing more crimes.”
Problem runs deeper
Director of advocacy for the ACLU of Colorado, Taylor Pendergrass, said he’s heard it all before. And he’s not buying it.