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Determinacy Type1: Indeterminate
Determinate sentencing was adopted in Colorado in 1979, In 1968 Colorado passed “Colorado Sex Offenders Act” this act allows an indeterminate commitment for sex offenders (Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) 18-1.3-904).  In 1998 Colorado passed “Colorado Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act” this act allows an indeterminate sentence with a minimum sentence in the presumptive range CRS 18-1.3-1004 offenses committed on or after November 1, 1998.2

The Colorado Sex Offender Act of 1968 provides for a sentence of from one day to life. The Act must be specifically invoked by the court or  the other party. The one day to life sentence is imposed if the sex offender is found to be a threat to the public. A release date is then determined by the parole board. However, since such offenders receive no special treatment under the Sex Offenders Act and the ultimate release date is uncertain, this act is seldom utilized. Therefore, most sex offenders are sentenced under the routine provisions of CRS § 18-1-105.3

The 1998 passage of the Colorado Lifetime Supervision Act requires that sex offenders must serve the term of their minimum sentence in prison. In addition these offenders must participated and progress in treatment in order to be considered a candidate for parole.

Time Served Requirements:

Colorado law specifies that any person sentenced for a class 2, class 3, class 4, class 5, or class 6 felony, or any unclassified felony, is eligible for parole after serving 50 percent of the imposed sentence, less earned time. Assuming an inmate earns 100 percent of allowable earned time, the earliest possible parole date is after serving 38 percent of the sentence. (Inmates may not reduce their sentence through earned time by more than 25 percent.)4

Offenders convicted of more serious violent crimes, however, are not eligible for parole after serving 50 percent of their sentence. Certain violent offenders must serve 75 percent of their sentence, less earned time. 

Any offender convicted and sentenced for a crime who twice previously was convicted for a crime which would have been a crime of violence is eligible for parole after serving 75 percent of the sentence, but no earned time is granted.

For a summary of House bills (HB) and Senate bills (SB) impacting felony sentencing and the CDOC see the following link: 

Standard Good Time:
An eligible offender can earn up to ten days of earned time, per month, and additional time if eligible for educational earned time, provisional earned time, or disaster relief grants. The total time granted for educational earned time, earned time, provisional earned time, and disaster relief time combined shall not exceed 30 percent of the sentence. On sentences of indeterminate to lifetime supervision (sentenced pursuant to 18-1.3-1004), the statutory maximum earned time of 30 percent will apply only to the minimum portion of the sentence.5
Other Good Time/Notes:
In 1990, legislation passed that authorized earned time awards to offenders while on parole in addition to the earned time already awarded in prison. In 1993, HB 1302 created a mandatory parole period for all offenders sentenced for offenses committed on or after July 1, 1993, on their first release from prison. The parole period was to be served in its entirety without reduction through earned time. Legislation passed in 1995 (HB 1087) authorized earned time credits while on parole for offenders convicted of certain nonviolent offenses, as newly defined in the statute. The legislation was retroactive and resulted in eligible offenders discharging their parole sentences earlier. In 1998, HB 1160 required parole returns to prison to complete a 12-month period of community supervision. The provision was repealed in 2003 in SB 252.6

The following offenders are NOT eligible for any type of earned time7:

  1. Violent offender enhancement (as defined by CRS 17-22.5-403 and/or as clarified by Time Comp.).
  2. Offenders whose governing sentence(s) was committed on or after July 1, 1993 and the governing mandatory parole period has been revoked. (Offenders with dates of offense prior to July 1, 1993, are eligible for earned time after parole revocation.)
  3. Offenders who have accumulated maximum earned time.
  4. Offenders in Colorado under the interstate corrections compact agreement.
  5. Offenders serving one day to life, life, life with or without parole eligibility, or are under the death penalty.
  6. Offenders on escape status.
  7. Offenders who have been sentenced to the DOC but remain in the county jail and are unavailable to be delivered
  8. to the diagnostic unit. (Offenders in the county jail who are available for delivery but are delayed due to DOC backlog are eligible for earned time/delivery award.)
  9. Offenders who have been writted to court, sentenced, and are serving a consecutive misdemeanor sentence in county jail before being returned to DOC to resume serving their felony sentence (pursuant to CRS 18-1.3-501(1)(c)).
Habitual Offender Law Types:
Two Strikes, Three Strikes, More Than Three Strikes
Habitual Offender Laws:

Since 1979, the habitual offender statute has evolved from two levels of habitual offenders— the "little habitual" and the "big habitual" — to four levels of habitual offenders today: the"little habitual;” the "big habitual;” the "bigger habitual;” and the "three strikes you're out" habitual.8 

The "little habitual." Offenders convicted of a class 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 felony who, within ten years of the date of the commission of the offense, have twice previously been convicted of a felony in Colorado, another state, or in federal court are adjudicated habitual offenders under the little habitual statute. The sentencing court is required to sentence such offenders to a term of imprisonment which is three times the maximum of the presumptive range for the felony class for which the person is convicted. The General Assembly chose not to apply the little habitual to class 6 felonies.

The "big habitual." Offenders convicted of a fourth felony, regardless of the felony class, in Colorado, another state, or in federal court are adjudicated habitual offenders under the big habitual statute. The sentencing court is required to sentence such offenders to a term of imprisonment which is four times the maximum in the presumptive range for the class of felony for which the person is convicted.

The "bigger habitual." Any offender convicted and sentenced under the big habitual statute, who is subsequently convicted of a felony which is a crime of violence as defined by Section 18-1.3-406, C.R.S., is adjudicated an habitual offender under the bigger habitual statute. Offenders convicted of the bigger habitual are to be sentenced to a term of life imprisonment. Offenders sentenced to life imprisonment under this provision are ineligible for parole until serving at least 40 calendar years.

The "three strikes you're out" habitual. This level of habitual offender applies to offenders convicted of a third class 1, 2, or 3 felony which is a crime of violence as defined in Section 18-1.3- 406, C.R.S. Such offenders are to be adjudicated an habitual offender and are to be sentenced to a term of life imprisonment. Offenders sentenced under the three strikes provisions are ineligible for parole until serving at least 40 calendar years.

General Jail Cutoff (months):
Sentences To Prison:

County jail9C.R.S. 18-1.3-501
Offenders convicted of a misdemeanor offense are punishable by fine or imprisonment. A term of imprisonment for a misdemeanor is not served in a state correctional facility unless the sentence is served concurrently with a term of conviction for a felony. The court may also sentence an offender to a term of jail and probation (C.R.S. 18-1.3- 202), to a term of jail and work release (C.R.S. 18-1.3-207), or to a term of jail and a fine (C.R.S. 18-1.3-505).

C.R.S. 18-1.3-401, et seq.
Persons convicted of felony offenses are subject to a penalty of imprisonment at the Department of Corrections (DOC) for a length of time that is specified in statute corresponding to the felony class for which the offender was convicted.

Felony Sentencing Chart11


Presumptive Minimum

Presumptive Maximum


Life in Prison

Death Sentence


8 yrs. Prison

24 yrs. Prison


4 yrs. Prison

12 yrs. Prison
(16 yrs. Prison *)


2 yrs. Prison

6 yrs. Prison
(8 yrs. Prison *)


1 yr. Prison

3 yrs. Prison
(4 yrs. Prison *)


1 yr. Prison

18 months Prison
(2 yrs. Prison *)

* Sometimes Probation or Community Corrections are also possible

If the judge finds exceptional aggravating circumstances, the range can increase to double the maximum.

If the charge is also designated as a "Crime of Violence," this may result in a mandatory prison sentence, which means the judge has no choice but to sentence you to prison.

Any sentence to prison will be followed by a mandatory parole.

 Classes of Misdemeanors13


Possible Penalty

Class One Misdemeanor (M1)

Up to 18 Months Jail*

Class Two Misdemeanor (M2)

Up to 12 Months Jail

Class Three Misdemeanor (M3)

Up to 6 months Jail

* If your charge is designated as an "Extraordinary Risk Crime," then this will increase the maximum sentence from 18 months jail to 24 months jail for a Class One Misdemeanor.

Correctional System
System Structure Type:
Prison Jurisdiction:
The mission of the Colorado Department of Corrections is to protect the public through effective management of criminal offenders in controlled environments which are efficient, safe, humane, and appropriately secure, while also providing meaningful work and self-improvement opportunities to assist offenders with community re-entry through pro-social stabilization.14
Type of Facilities:
20 adult and juvenile facilities
4 private prisons
2 private jails
Private Prisons:

The DOC holds offenders in three privately operated facilities:

- Bent County Correctional Facility

- Cheyenne Mountain Re-entry Center

- Crowley County Correctional Facility

Admission Types:

The Colorado DOC lists the following admission types:

Court Commitments:  

  • New Commitments
  • Parole Return — New Conviction
  • Court Order Return — New Conviction
  • Probation — New Conviction
  • YOS* Failure
  • YOS Failure — New Convictions

Technical Returns:  Technical returns include offenders previously incarcerated in Colorado who released to parole, probation, court ordered discharge or appeal bond without a new felony conviction. Technical returns may have new misdemeanor convictions, traffic convictions or violations of conditions specified in the parole agreement.

  • Parole Return
  • Court Order Discharge
  • Probation


  • Dual Commitment/Interstate Compact
  • Interstate Compact

YOUTHFUL OFFENDER SYSTEM (YOS):  C.R.S. 18-1.3-407 Certain juveniles tried and sentenced as adults may be sentenced to the YOS as an alternative to a sentence to prison. In order to sentence a juvenile to the YOS, the court must first impose a sentence to the DOC which is then suspended on the condition that the youthful offender completes a sentence to the YOS, including a period of community supervision. A sentence to the YOS is a determinate sentence of no less than two years or no more than six years; except that a juvenile convicted of a class 2 felony may be sentenced for a determinate period of up to seven years. The DOC will also place the youth under community supervision for a period of not less than six months and up to 12 months any time after the date on which the youth has 12 months remaining to complete the determinate sentence.15

Release Supervision
Post-Prison Supervision Jurisdiction:
State DOC, Independent Probation Agency
Supervision Jurisdiction:

The COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS’ DIVISION OF ADULT PAROLE, COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS AND YOS (APCC) is responsible for Post-prison supervision (including parole, community corrections, and YOS).16

Interstate Compact  is under the jurisdiction of the Division of Adult Parole, Community Corrections and YOS (APCC).  

Parole decisions are made by THE PAROLE BOARD, an independent seven-member board appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Colorado Senate. Individual parole board members review parole recommendations statewide, in cases of violent offenses a full board review is required.17

The COLORADO JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT maintains supervision of offenders who are in community corrections as the result of direct sentences or as a condition of probation.18  The Colorado Judicial Department administers adult and juvenile probation within Colorado’s 22 judicial districts. This includes 23 probation departments with over 50 separate probation offices throughout the state.

LOCAL COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS BOARD (C.R.S. 17-27-103):  Local community corrections boards are the governing bodies of community corrections programs. Locally elected officials appoint community corrections boards. These boards’ authority includes the following: to approve or disapprove the establishment and operation of a community corrections program; to enter into contracts to provide services and supervision for offenders; to accept or reject any offender referred for placement in a community corrections facility; the authority to reject an offender after placement in a community corrections program; to establish and enforce standards for the operation of a community corrections program; and to establish conditions for the conduct of offenders placed in community corrections programs.19

Release Types:
The Colorado DOC lists the following release types:
  • Discretionary
  • Mandatory
  • Mandatory Reparole
  • HB 1351 Mandatory
  • Accelerated Transition
Sentence Discharge:  HB 1087 discharges include offenders with a nonviolent crime eligible for earned time while on parole; if these offenders return to prison with a technical violation, they complete their parole time in prison and then discharge their sentence. Martin/Cooper discharges apply to offenders convicted of sex offenses between July 1, 1993, and November 1, 1998. 
  • Discharge
  • HB 1087 Discharge
  • Martin/Cooper Discharges
  • Discharge to Pending Charges
  • Discharge to Detainer


  • Probation
  • Court Order Discharge
  • Deceased
  • Dual to ICC/New Crime
  • Appeal Bond
Supervision Types:
PAROLE:  is the supervision of offenders released from Colorado correctional facilities by the Colorado Parole Board or authorized under the Interstate Compact for the Supervision of Probationers and Parolees to reside in Colorado.20

  • Discretionary parole: Released to parole through Parole Board discretion prior to mandatory release or sentence discharge date.
  • Mandatory parole: Released to parole on mandatory release date.
  • Mandatory reparole: Reparoled on specific date set by Parole Board (includes S.B. 252 reparoles).
  • HB 1351 Mandatory:  Increased the amount of earned time from 10 days to 12 days for those serving a sentence for certain class 4, 5, or 6 felony who are program-compliant.
  • Accelerated Transition:  Eligible parolees may have an adjusted parole term and be released from parole after serving 50 percent of their parole sentence.

INTENSIVE SUPERVISION PAROLE (ISP):  In addition to regular parole, there is intensive supervision parole (ISP). The intensive supervision program (ISP) was started in 1991 to provide additional supervision and program participation for high risk parolees.  Due to their increased risk, the ISP offender undergoes increased supervision, constant surveillance via the use of electronic monitoring, participate in a daily call-in system or a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) system, and weekly visits with their parole officers.21 DOC inmates who have no more than 180 days until their parole eligibility date (PED) are eligible for placement in ISP. In addition, offenders in a community corrections facility who have met residential program requirements and who have no more than 180 days until their PED are eligible for ISP.22

COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS AS A CONDITION OF PAROLE (C.R.S. 18-1.3-301(3)):  Legislative changes in 1987 enabled the Parole Board to refer parolees to Community Corrections. The Parole Board may refer any parolee for placement in a community corrections program, subject to acceptance by the local community corrections board. Placement may be made a condition of release on parole or as a modification to the conditions of parole after release or upon temporary revocation of parole.23

TRANSITION COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS (C.R.S. 18-1.3-301(2)): The DOC executive director may transfer any inmate who has displayed acceptable institutional behavior, other than one serving a sentence for a crime of violence, to a community corrections program subject to approval by the community corrections board. Non-violent inmates are referred to community corrections by the DOC 19 months prior to the offender’s PED and moved to a community corrections facility 16 months prior to the PED. The DOC may refer violent offenders to a community corrections facility 9 months prior to the PED and may move them 180 days prior to the PED.24


Disclaimer: The information on the Fact Sheets has been assembled verbatim from the public sources referenced in the Fact Sheets. For some states, the Department of Corrections or Community Supervision has also provided additional information. Because this type of information is constantly changing, users are cautioned to research and verify website information independently.

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