Policy changes by Colorado’s Department of Corrections (CDOC) during the COVID-19 pandemic yielded positive results for public safety, according to a presentation by Molly Buchanan, Ph.D., Senior Data and Policy Specialist for the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI). Dr. Buchanan presented CJI’s findings on March 15 at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in National Harbor, Maryland, alongside Merideth McGrath, Director of Parole Operations at CDOC.
The presentation drew from CJI’s recent publication, Colorado’s Justice System Changes During COVID-19 Show Positive Public Safety Outcomes. The publication relays the impact of CDOC policies implemented during COVID-19. Intended to reduce the state’s community supervision population and mitigate virus spread, policies expanded eligibility and streamlined approval for early parole discharge and transfers to less intensive supervision. Analyses revealed positive public safety outcomes, with individuals benefitting from these policy changes less likely to receive new charges, new convictions, or return to prison.
CDOC’s efforts demonstrate how agencies can respond during public health crises and engender positive public safety outcomes by aligning policy with research.