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Bill in Colorado to provide cash assistance to people leaving prison dies

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Lindsey Toomer

(Colorado Newsline) Colorado lawmakers killed a bill that would have provided direct cash assistance for daily expenses to support people recently released from incarceration. 

At the Wednesday meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, members voted to table the proposal at the request of the bill sponsors, Denver Democratic state Sens. James Coleman and Julie Gonzales. The bill would have created a pilot program to provide up to $3,000 for basic life expenses to people who enroll in workforce training programs after incarceration in a state facility. 

The Center for Employment Opportunities, which offers reentry services in Denver and around the country, advocated in favor of the bill and was identified as a top contender to facilitate the pilot program if it passed. CEO leadership said in a statement that it hopes to work with legislators to bring the bill back in the future. 

“Every day, as we welcome people returning from Colorado prisons to our offices, we see the optimism and immense challenges they face,” CEO Colorado Regional Director Valerie Greenhagen said in a statement. “They are eager to rebuild their lives, find steady employment, pay debts, contribute to the economy, and provide for their families, but they lack the most essential financial resources to help them in that transition. That’s why today’s vote is so disappointing.”

Concerns arose about the high cost of the program, and the Colorado Department of Corrections also testified against the bill at its first hearing. But people who have participated in similar pilot programs told the committee how helpful the stimulus funding had been to them as they transitioned from incarceration. 

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