COVID-19 Jail Depopulation in Colorado

ACLU Report Finds Colorado Jail Depopulation Policies are Smart, Safe and Fiscally Responsible

The ACLU-CO report “COVID-19 Jail Depopulation in Colorado” finds that in an unprecedented move to protect public health, actors in the criminal legal system have worked together to dramatically decrease Colorado’s jail population which fell by 46% statewide since March, although it is now on the rise. At the peak of depopulation, around 6,000 fewer people were sleeping in jail every night, which means over 20,000 more people are living free in community each month. In a matter of months, jail populations dropped to levels not seen in almost thirty years. As a result of this depopulation, Colorado’s jails are now, on average, at 47% capacity, compared to 81% before the pandemic. Lower jail occupancy makes them safer for both incarcerated people and staff.

 

Figure 1. Hover over any county in Colorado to see changes in jail population and potential cost-savings as a result of depopulation. 

Even as jail populations are down, crime rates have stayed flat statewide and pretrial misconduct remains low. In the fourteen largest counties in Colorado, which account for over 80% of Colorado’s population, there was a 4% drop in crime, with almost 3,000 fewer incidents in 2020 compared to 2019. In other words, Colorado does not have to choose between public safety and public health. In fact, jail depopulation has the added benefit of creating substantial potential savings for counties and taxpayers. If Colorado were able to sustain the 46% drop in jail population, it would save at least $210 million taxpayer dollars statewide per year. These millions could be better spent addressing the root causes of crime.

 

Figure 2. Key take-aways from the ACLU-CO report on jail depopulation. 

Unfortunately, even as COVID-19 continues to spread behind bars, Colorado’s jail population has risen by 17% since July. We cannot accept a return to the “normal” that not only exacerbated the impact of this pandemic, but also harmfully imprisoned tens of thousands of Coloradans every month. Colorado has an opportunity to lives, money, families and jobs, all while honoring the promise of our Constitutional presumption of innocence. The time to act and build a better Colorado is now.        

Additional Resources:

Read the full report

Learn more about the decarceration campaign 

Jail Depopulation in Colorado Counties

Adams County

The Adams county jail is the 5th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Adams county jail during the pandemic was 615 people. This is a 37% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 368 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April and May, with a 41% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 48%, which is a 29% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Alamosa County

The average daily population of the Alamosa county jail during the pandemic was 43 people. This is a 45% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 34 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in March, with a 61% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 26%, which is a 21% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Arapahoe County

The Arapahoe county jail is the 4th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Arapahoe county jail during the pandemic was 631 people. This is a 42% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 455 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in August, with a 46% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 54%, which is a 39% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

The Aurora Detention Center is a city jail in Arapahoe county. The average daily population of the Aurora Detention Center during the pandemic was 7 people. This is an 86% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 42 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 92% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 11%, which is a 70% drop compared to pre-COVID-19.  

Baca County

The average daily population of the Baca county jail during the pandemic was 4 people. This is a 40% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 3 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in August, with a 68% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 16%, which is a 11% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Bent County

The average daily population of the Bent county jail during the pandemic was 29 people. This is a 24% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 10 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 29% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 54%, which is a 17% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

 

Boulder County

The Boulder county jail is the 10th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Boulder county jail during the pandemic was 237 people. This is a 43% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 177 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in May, with a 47% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 46%, which is a 34% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Broomfield County

The average daily population of the Broomfield county jail during the pandemic was 49 people. This is a 51% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 50 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in September, with a 63% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 22%, which is a 23% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Chaffee County

The average daily population of the Chaffee county jail during the pandemic was 25 people. This is a 68% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 52 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in both March and April, with a 77% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 24%, which is a 50% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Clear Creek County

The average daily population of the Clear Creek county jail during the pandemic was 50 people. This is a 46% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 42 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in May, with a 52% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 48%, which is a 40% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Conejos County

 The average daily population of the Conejos county jail during the pandemic was 10 people. This is a 64% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 17 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 79% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 12%, which is a 21% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Costilla County

The average daily population of the Costilla county jail during the pandemic was 8 people. This is a 53% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 10 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 70% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 47%, which is a 53% drop compared to pre-COVID-19.

Crowley County

The average daily population of the Crowley county jail during the pandemic was 3 people. This is a 48% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 3 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 90% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 26%, which is a 23% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Custer County

The average daily population of the Custer county jail during the pandemic was 4 people. This is a 54% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 4 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in September, with an 88% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 31%, which is a 37% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Delta County

The average daily population of the Delta county jail during the pandemic was 32 people. This is a 47% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 28 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in August, with a 54% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 50%, which is a 45% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Denver County

The Denver county jail is the largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Denver county jail during the pandemic was 1085 people. This is a 47% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 975 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in May, June, and July, with a 51% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 45%, which is a 40% drop compared to pre-COVID-19.

Douglas County

The Douglas county jail is the 11th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Douglas county jail during the pandemic was 214 people. This is a 31% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 97 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in May, with a 39% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 49%, which is a 22% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Eagle County

The average daily population of the Eagle county jail during the pandemic was 30 people. This is a 48% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 28 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 57% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 27%, which is a 25% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

El Paso County

The El Paso county jail is the 2nd largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the El Paso county jail during the pandemic was 1018 people. This is a 40% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 685 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 46% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 55%, which is a 37% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Elbert County

The average daily population of the Elbert county jail during the pandemic was 19 people. This is a 22% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 5 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 33% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 54%, which is a 15% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Fremont County

The Fremont county jail is the 14th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Fremont county jail during the pandemic was 103 people. This is a 37% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 60 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in  April and August, with a 40% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 43%, which is a 25% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Garfield County

The average daily population of the Garfield county jail during the pandemic was 57 people. This is a 49% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 54 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 55% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 28%, which is a 27% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Gilpin County

The average daily population of the Gilpin county jail during the pandemic was 24 people. This is a 58% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 32 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in July and August, with a 64% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 26%, which is a 36% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Grand County

The average daily population of the Grand county jail during the pandemic was 13 people. This is a 26% increase compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 3 more people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 29% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 25%, which is a 5% increase compared to pre-COVID-19.

Gunnison County

The average daily population of the Gunnison county jail during the pandemic was 8 people. This is a 64% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 14 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in July, with a 70% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 9%, which is a 17% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Huerfano County

The average daily population of the Huerfano county jail during the pandemic was 15 people. This is a 52% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 17 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in March, with a 63% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 44%, which is a 48% drop compared to pre-COVID-19.

Jackson County

The Jackson county jail is the smallest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Jackson county jail during the pandemic was 2 people. This is a 35% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 1 fewer person in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in September, with an 83% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 49%, which is a 26% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Jefferson County

The Jefferson county jail is the 3rd largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Jefferson county jail during the pandemic was 623 people. This is a 52% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 680 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 57% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 54%, which is a 59% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Kit Carson County

 The average daily population of the Kit Carson county jail during the pandemic was 12 people. This is a 22% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 4 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June and September, with a 34% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 24%, which is a 7% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

La Plata County

The La Plata county jail is the 12th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the La Plata county jail during the pandemic was 122 people. This is a 39% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 79 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 46% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 44%, which is a 28% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Larimer County

The Larimer county jail is the 9th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Larimer county jail during the pandemic was 401 people. This is a 25% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 134 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 33% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 80%, which is a 27% drop compared to pre-COVID-19.  

Las Animas County

The average daily population of the Las Animas county jail during the pandemic was 32 people. This is a 31% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 15 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April and June, with a 49% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 29%, which is a 13% drop compared to pre-COVID-19.

Lincoln County

 The average daily population of the Lincoln county jail during the pandemic was 16 people. This is a 62% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 26 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 73% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 39%, which is a 64% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Logan County

The Logan county jail is the 15th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Logan county jail during the pandemic was 72 people. This is a 37% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 42 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in September, with a 50% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 60%, which is a 35% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Mesa County

The Mesa county jail is the 8th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Mesa county jail during the pandemic was 331 people. This is a 40% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 218 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 45% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 53%, which is a 35% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Moffat County

The average daily population of the Moffat county jail during the pandemic was 21 people. This is a 55% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 26 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in July, with a 63% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 21%, which is a 25% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Montezuma County

The average daily population of the Montezuma county jail during the pandemic was 65 people. This is a 39% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 43 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 55% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 63%, which is a 41% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Montrose County

The average daily population of the Montrose county jail during the pandemic was 73 people. This is a 21% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 20 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 43% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 49%, which is a 13% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Morgan County

The average daily population of the Morgan county jail during the pandemic was 64 people. This is a 35% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 35 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 44% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 52%, which is a 28% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Otero County

The average daily population of the Otero county jail during the pandemic was 10 people. This is a 20% increase compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 2 more people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in March, with a 63% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 28%, which is a 5% increase compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Park County

 The average daily population of the Park county jail during the pandemic was 27 people. This is a 33% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 13 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 55% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 11%, which is a 5% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Pitkin County

The average daily population of the Pitkin county jail during the pandemic was 10 people. This is a 45% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 8 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 64% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 34%, which is a 27% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Prowers County

The average daily population of the Prowers county jail during the pandemic was 39 people. This is a 40% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 26 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in May, with a 50% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 68%, which is a 46% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Pueblo County

The Pueblo county jail is the 7th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Pueblo county jail during the pandemic was 403 people. This is a 39% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 257 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 44% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 52%, which is a 33% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Rio Blanco County

The average daily population of the Rio Blanco county jail during the pandemic was 14 people. This is a 28% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 5 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in September, with a 52% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 40%, which is a 16% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Rio Grande County

The average daily population of the Rio Grande county jail during the pandemic was 19 people. This is a 42% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 13 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 64% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 52%, which is a 37% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Routt County

The average daily population of the Routt county jail during the pandemic was 12 people. This is a 72% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 29 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in May, with a 81% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 20%, which is a 52% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Saguache County

The average daily population of the Saguache county jail during the pandemic was 12 people. This is a 5% increase compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 1 more person in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, May, and September, with a 9% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 55%, which is a 3% increase compared to pre-COVID-19.

San Miguel County

The average daily population of the San Miguel county jail during the pandemic was 5 people. This is a 43% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 4 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in March, with a 56% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 16%, which is a 12% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Summit County

The average daily population of the Summit county jail during the pandemic was 25 people. This is a 54% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 30 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in April, with a 67% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 27%, which is a 32% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Teller County

The average daily population of the Teller county jail during the pandemic was 42 people. This is a 58% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 57 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in May, with a 72% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 8%, which is a 11% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Washington County

The Washington county jail is the 13th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Washington county jail during the pandemic was 95 people. This is a 43% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 72 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 59% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 43%, which is a 33% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Weld County

The Weld county jail is the 6th largest jail in Colorado. The average daily population of the Weld county jail during the pandemic was 514 people. This is a 32% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 240 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in May, with a 38% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 67%, which is a 31% drop compared to pre-COVID-19. 

Yuma County

The average daily population of the Yuma county jail during the pandemic was 17 people. This is a 3% drop compared to pre-COVID-19, with an average of 1 fewer people in jail each day. The highest population drop occurred in June, with a 21% drop in the number of people incarcerated. The average occupancy was 42%, which is a 1% drop compared to pre-COVID-19.