DENVER (CBS4) – Some lawmakers say people are being jailed for minor crimes in Colorado simply because they don’t have enough money to pay for the bond. A bill introduced this week in the state legislature would bar that the courts from requiring that people pay bonds in cases of petty crimes and traffic offenses.

(credit: CBS)

Rep. Matt Soper, a Republican who represents Delta, and Rep. Leslie Herod, a Democrat who represents Denver, are the authors of the bill. They say thousands of poor people are being jailed because they can’t afford even inexpensive bonds, even though the crimes they’re accused of wouldn’t land them in jail.

“Colorado’s jail population has skyrocketed tremendously over the years, and the biggest spike is in our pre-trial population. Beds in jail are not cheap, and they should be reserved for those individuals who present a true risk to our community,” said Herod.

The bill passed through its first committee hearing unanimously.

Among the supporters is Natalia Marshall. Her uncle Michael Marshall was jailed on a $100 bond for trespassing and he later died in an altercation with deputies. That resulted in a $4.5 million settlement with the family.

“My uncle was unable to pay his bond. I don’t think he was mentally able to pay his bond mentally as well as financially,” she said on Thursday and argued that he might still be alive if he hadn’t been jailed.