41% of JeffCo inmates released early were serving DUI sentences

Problem Solvers

GOLDEN, Colo. (KDVR) — Thirty-nine more inmates were released early from the Jefferson County Detention Center Wednesday as the sheriff’s office looks to meet required budget cuts. 

So far, 156 inmates have been released through the early release program. 

The county began releasing inmates early last month after a $5.5 million budget cut forced the sheriff to close an entire floor. 

“We don’t look forward to releasing inmates,” said Public Information Officer Mike Taplin. “We’re a law enforcement agency.” 

Of the 156 inmates released so far, records show 64 were serving sentences for DUI convictions.

That includes multiple repeat offenders. 

“Their crime is one of those crimes where they’re able to serve out their sentence in county jail, where more severe crimes will end up going to prison,” said Taplin. 

In order to be eligible for early release, inmates must have served at least 50% of their sentence and must not be barred from an early release by a judge. 

Inmates who were sentenced in victims’ rights cases are also not eligible for early release.
Taplin says that leaves a shallow pool of options as they look to remain below their 1,148 operational capacity. 

Wednesday’s release included three inmates who had served just 51% of their DUI sentence. One inmate was released 187 days early. 

“If we want to be able to hold more people here, we need more staff to do it,” said Taplin. 

The national president of Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says she’s keeping a close eye on Jefferson County. 

“It’s horrible and it’s more than alarming because these offenders are likely multiple-time arrestees,” said Helen Witty. “That puts everyone on the roads at risk.”

Witty is calling on the county to require ignition interlock devices for DUI convicts released early. 

“It’s important to keep these dangerous people off the road, and if they have to be released, they should at the very least have an ignition interlock for six months,” she said.

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