Half of Colorado’s district attorneys might be changed after election

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Half of Colorado’s district attorneys will be replaced after election

Colorado voters could change the landscape of the state's criminal justice system next year, with every district attorney running in November.

While President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden argue over what criminal justice reform should look like at the national level, more than half of Colorado's prosecutors will be replaced in the new year, according to a report by the Denver Post.

Although several incumbents are running unopposed in the November 3rd election, many new candidates run unchallenged in the state's 22 judicial districts.

In addition to playing a role in shaping Colorado's criminal justice policy, the new prosecutors will influence case-by-case decisions on issues such as plea agreements, indictments, and prison rehabilitation.

Colorado could be one of the first states to experience major criminal justice reform with the new class of attorneys as the debate between increased policing or shift to community investment takes place at the national level.

One issue that has attracted national attention is the elimination of cash deposits for nonviolent offenders in order to even out income gaps in the criminal justice system.

Alonzo Payne is running against an incumbent in southern Colorado. He drew attention after receiving endorsement from Senator Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Of his progressive views on criminal justice reform.

"I was very upset with the way things were being handled," Payne told the Denver Post. “It was really a criminalization of poverty. I've decided to bring human compassion to the prosecutor's office. "

Payne has spoken out in favor of lifting the cash bail system, which he believes is wrongly detaining those unable to afford bail for their release, while wealthier people are released while they await trial.

The former defense attorney also said the criminal justice system needs to more appropriately address issues ranging from mental health to substance abuse support.

"Over-zealous and unjustified law enforcement actions have put so much strain on our criminal justice system that it is at a breaking point," Payne said in a statement.

"County prisons are overcrowded and lack the resources to act as social workers, counselors and psychiatrists," he said, adding that problems facing the criminal justice system could lead to civil rights violations if left unaddressed.

But Coloradans aren't the only ones voting on criminal justice policy this November.

Trump and Biden attacked each other during the last presidential debate over how to deal with racial reform and criminal justice.

"Nobody should go to jail because they have a drug problem," said Biden from the debate on Thursday evening. "We should fundamentally change the system."

Biden said he supports lowering incarceration rates while investing in resources for those formally incarcerated. Biden also threw his support behind calls for additional government oversight and transparency in police activities.

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Trump has called for more investment in the police and increased penalties for certain crimes. The President does not support the removal of minutes on bail.