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Proposed bill in Colorado would give people leaving prison $3,000 to restart life, could save state money

Colorado Senate bill could give people leaving prison $3K to restart life
Colorado Senate bill could give people leaving prison $3K to restart life 02:22

Colorado state Sen. James Coleman knows times are tough for a lot of Coloradans. Especially if they have been convicted of a crime and served their sentence.

"There's a real high possibility of them being able to go back on the streets and come right back into the prison because they don't have the resources they need," he told CBS News Colorado.

Colorado State Sen. James Coleman CBS

That's why he, along with State Sen. Julie Gonzales and State Reps. Mary Young and Javier Mabrey -- all Democrats -- have introduced Senate Bill 24-012, which would create a prison reintegration pilot program that would give certain people leaving incarceration up to $3,000 for basic life expenses.

"We want to make sure that we are a state that supports individuals getting back on their feet once they come out of prison," said Coleman.

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Coleman says it's also an opportunity to save the state money.


"It costs about $50,000 a year to incarcerate one individual in the prison behind me. If we're able to give them $3,000 to support them to get back on their feet, then that's $47,000 that we're saving," said Coleman.

And he says data shows it works.

"If you look across the country where programs like this exist, make it possible for them to have a 90% transition back into the workforce when they get out of prison," said Coleman.

RELATED: Colorado invests in inmates to become business leaders

Not everyone would be eligible for the payments. The candidate would have to participate in workforce services or training programs upon release. Coleman says the people that would qualify have paid their debt to society and he would rather see them contribute to our state rather than fall back into crime to provide for themselves.


"Colorado's about redemption," said Coleman. "As much as we're looking to invest in our children, as much as we're looking to invest in our elders, we also want to make sure that folks who are coming out of prison have an opportunity for redemption and success as well."

Right now, if you are incarcerated in Colorado when you are released you get $100 to start your life and Coleman says right now, the recidivism rate in Colorado is 50%. He thinks $3,000 for basic needs will help lower that.

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