Mandatory minimum convictions a small percentage of Colorado prisoners

Data Desk

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DENVER (KDVR) — A Colorado General Assembly study suggests mandatory minimum sentences are rare in Colorado – only a small minority of the state’s prison intake.

The conviction and sentencing of Rogel Aguilera-Mederos has refocused attention on Colorado’s mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines. In response to his sentence for his role in four deaths on Interstate 70 in 2019, there has been public outcry that his sentence was too harsh.

Mandatory minimums require judges to hand down minimum sentences for certain offenses, which range from violent offenses to drugs. They also require that offenders serve multiple sentences consecutively.

In Aguilera-Mederos’ case, he was found guilty of 27 counts and given a sentence of 110 years.

His judge said he’d have liked to give a lighter sentence but his hands were tied by the state’s mandatory minimum laws.

In the Colorado state prison system, mandatory minimum sentences are a small minority of the annual prison intake, according to Colorado Judicial Branch and Colorado Department of Corrections data.

A Colorado legislative report from 2017 counted how many people were convicted under mandatory minimums from Jan. 1, 2014, through Dec. 31, 2016.

According to the document, there were 416 people convicted of violent crimes and given sentences under mandatory minimum guidelines. There were 155 people convicted of drug crimes.

Colorado Department of Corrections records show these are small portions of the state’s prison population.

In 2014, 2015 and 2016, CDOC admitted 15,574 inmates. These were new court commitments, meaning they were not formerly paroled inmates coming back for new crimes or for technical parole violations.

That makes violent offenders with mandatory minimum sentences 2.7% of CDOC’s new felon intake, and drug offenders 1%.

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