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AG Weiser talks criminal justice reform at Springs town hall

Posted at 10:00 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 00:28:58-05

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser spent time in Southern Colorado, hearing from people at town hall meetings in Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

The afternoon meeting at the Penrose Library was Weiser's third visit to the Springs since taking office in January. He views meetings as a way to stay connected with the public.

"My job is to be the people's lawyer which means serve all the people of Colorado," Weiser said.

He was joined by local democrats Sen. Pete Lee and Rep. Tony Exum for discussion on criminal justice issues in Colorado Springs. Tenth Judicial District Attorney Jeff Chostner met with Weiser for the evening town hall meeting at the Rawlings Library.

"We'll be working on a number of items together including reforming cash bail," Weiser said. "So, I've got a robust agenda but I also want to hear whatever people want to talk about."

A bill to prohibit the use of cash bail for petty offenses and traffic crimes passed the legislature with unanimous support in April. Senator Lee said he wants to expand that law to have additional crimes apply for the same protection.

Another issue that concerns the attorney general is a rise in hate crimes. Statistics reported by the FBI showed a 16 percent increase in hate crime reports in Colorado between 2017 and 2018.

"We're working as part of a coalition, a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League and others, to address rising hate crimes," Weiser said.

He believes that encouraging people to report suspected hate activity, even if it doesn't merit criminal charges, can help deter the bias motivated crimes.

"Were not doing enough to get the numbers reported. We've got to learn about this sooner so that we can prevent incidents like the one in Pueblo."

if you couldn't make the meeting in person, Mr. Weiser encourages the public contact him through his webpage.