HB 1037, Department of Corrections Earned Time For College Program Completion, is a dignity-affirming bill that offers a way to lower recidivism rates and encourage rehabilitation. The bill allows non-violent offenders to earn time off their sentence in prison if they receive either a degree or certificate from a qualifying institution. Prison education programs are proven to be an effective recidivism reduction tool. They promote the dignity of the incarcerated to better themselves and allow access resources that would otherwise be unavailable in prison.
The Colorado Catholic Conference supports this legislation based on Church teaching on restorative justice, a tenant of which is to lower the recidivism rates through policies that foster the rehabilitation of the incarcerated. The proposed policy incentivizes incarcerated persons to better themselves, gain valuable knowledge, and better assimilate back into society upon their release. The Catholic Church supports programs that offer incentives and pathways for restoration personally and within society for incarcerated persons. Indeed, Bureau of Justice studies have shown significant reduction in recidivism rates for prisoners who participate in a prison education program, with a 0% recidivism rate for those who obtain a master’s degree.
As a society, we ought to be considering effective ways to ensure public safety, rehabilitate those who are incarcerated, and lower the recidivism rate. This bill has the potential to accomplish all three of those goals while simultaneously advancing a fiscally responsible solution.
The Colorado Catholic Conference urges the passage of HB 1037.