(Golden, CO – April 22, 2021) Today marks the 100th day since District Attorney Alexis King took office. She has wasted no time implementing changes tailored to her promises to voters.
District Attorney Creates One-of-Its-Kind Conviction Integrity Unit. District Attorney Alexis King moved quickly to establish the only Conviction Integrity Unit in the state led by fulltime staff – former Colorado State Public Defender and private defense attorney Jennifer Kilpatrick, CIU Director, who is joined by a criminal investigator with decades of experience in cold cases and support staff. The First Judicial District CIU is also the only unit of its kind in the state that, following national best practices, reviews not only claims of actual innocence or wrongful conviction, but also past sentences that are unjust, inequitable, or disproportionate to the crime committed. Referred mostly by law enforcement officers and prosecutors who affirmatively identified past inequities and requested CIU review, Director Kilpatrick and her team assess these cases for possible resentencing, in consultation with the victims of these crimes and with the utmost respect for their input and dignity.
As these cases move through the courts, the CIU has already celebrated its first ruling, successfully petitioning the court to reduce a 24-year prison sentence for a now 56-year-old person convicted of passing a fraudulent $163 check. The defendant had already served 6 years in prison at significant cost to taxpayers and is immediately eligible for parole as a result of the decision. Had he served the original 24-year sentence, the cost to taxpayers would have been $952,824. In addition to righting past sentencing wrongs, the CIU is reviewing eight claims of actual innocence as well as petitions for clemency and has also begun collecting comprehensive data to ensure that future case outcomes are equitable and further the goal of safer and healthier communities for all who live, work, and play in Jefferson and Gilpin Counties.
“A prosecutor’s duty to fairness and justice does not end at sentencing,” said District Attorney King. “While we aggressively prosecute those who cause harm and exploit our most vulnerable, we also recognize our duty to right past wrongs, and we’ve built an experienced and talented team to do this work.”
District Attorney Joins State-Wide Unemployment Insurance Task Force. District Attorney Alexis King joined Attorney General Phil Weiser to announce a new state-wide task force to put an end to the historic spike in fraudulent unemployment insurance claims – during the ongoing pandemic, the state has blocked more than 1.1 million fraudulent claims from being paid out, preventing more than $7 billion in fraudulent benefit payment. Partners in the Colorado Unemployment Fraud Task Force, including Attorney General Weiser, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment will rely on the leadership of district attorneys across the state to prosecute these fraudulent actors, and District Attorney King, along with three other elected DAs in the state, will play a key role. “This type of fraud harms not only those whose identities are stolen to commit this crime, but also those who legitimately need access to assistance during this crisis. This partnership will form a more coordinated and comprehensive response to this unprecedented exploitation of a critical community safety net,” said District Attorney King.
District Attorney Alexis King Undertakes Comprehensive Pay Equity Analysis. Last year, District Attorney Alexis King joined many in celebrating the ground-breaking passage of Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act, sponsored in part by Jefferson County’s own State Senators Jessie Danielson and Brittany Petersen, along with State Senator Janet Buckner and Representative Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez. The Act targets gender-based pay disparities, and as the first woman elected District Attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin Counties, DA King immediately initiated a comprehensive analysis of pay to determine whether inequities persisted with the Office of the First Judicial District Attorney. She engaged an outside expert to work collaboratively and in partnership with staff throughout the office and its units, and took swift action on advised adjustments to pay ranges and individual pay, instituting a transparent, forward-thinking and equitable pay structure that her staff can rely on for the duration of her service as the elected District Attorney for Jefferson and Gilpin Counties. DA King states, “According the the U.S. Department of Labor, in 2020, women made 82 cents for every dollar a man earned. This gap is even wider for women of color. I am committed to transparent and equitable pay practices for our staff, dedicated public servants who work tirelessly to make Jefferson and Gilpin Counties safer and healthier places to live, work, and play.”
Other Initiatives. District Attorney King has also moved quickly to reassess how her prosecutors request bond for those accused of crimes and awaiting trial, moving to an evidence based hold or release model that assesses a person’s risk to the community and potential victims, ensuring that those who pose a risk of committing further harm remain in custody and those who can be managed safely in the community are released – a smarter use of our pandemic-limited jail space and taxpayer resources.
Plans are also underway to launch a pre-file diversion program, so that those committing low level offenses can be held accountable and safely diverted from the criminal justice system through smart, fiscally responsible interventions without the collateral consequences of being “on paper” and removing barriers to rehabilitation and reintegration as contributing members of our community.