Gov. Polis signs two new executive orders aimed at coronavirus relief

The signing of two new executive orders by Gov. Jared Polis to combat coronavirus were announced Thursday, one to limit COVID-19 in prisons and the other extending expiration dates of certain state licenses and documents.

“We will continue taking the bold steps necessary to limit the spread of this virus including those to increase convenience for Coloradans staying at home. These new actions will ensure Coloradans can have their licenses renewed without having to go in person,” Gov. Polis said in a news release. “We also took actions to protect our prison guards and facilities today. For now, people need to stay at home whenever possible to save lives.”

Executive order D 2020 016 concerns “protocol for state prisons and community corrections facilities,” the release said.

Directives of the order include:

Colorado Department of Corrections can temporarily limit the amount of prisoners it accepts, based on certain criteria, keeping offenders in pre-transfer facilities.
DOC can award “earned time credits” to reduce the current prison population.
Qualifying inmates can be referred to a “Special Needs Parole” program.
A $17 daily subsistence payment required from community corrections clients will be suspended.

“The potential spread of COVID-19 in facilities and prisons poses a significant threat to
prisoners and staff who work in facilities and prisons, as well as the communities to which
incarcerated persons will return,” the release said.

The governor’s order also calls for making 650 beds available in the DOC’s East Cañon Complex,  Cañon City, to “house persons of mixed classification for operational needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Rep. Leslie Herod, a Denver Democrat who has worked extensively on prison issues, supports the order.

“The Executive Order is a critical recognition that something needs to be done to contain COVID-19 in our prisons and community corrections. The virus will strike there, as it will all of our communities, and I’m encouraged that the governor recognizes this fact and is taking important steps to contain its spread,” Herod said. “This is vital and I support it. We must keep offenders and our correctional officers safe and as healthy as possible.”

Dean Williams, executive director of CDOC, also applauded and supports the order.