Give judges power to deny bail to dangerous felons

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HJR 4220, written following the Lakewood murders, allows bail to be denied for those facing life in prison.

We recommend voters approve HJR 4220 to give judges another tool to keep the public safe.

The measure gives judges the flexibility to deny bail to criminal suspects facing the possibility of life in prison and who have a "propensity for violence that would likely endanger" the public.

This proposal to change the state Constitution was crafted by the Legislature in the wake of the horrific murders of four Lakewood police officers by a convicted felon. The officers were shot and killed by Maurice Clemmons, who just days before posted bail on charges that included rape of a child. If convicted, Clemmons would have received life in prison under the state's three-strikes law.

Clemmons was a violent man on the loose with absolutely nothing to lose.

But the judge had no choice but to allow Clemmons to post bail. Currently, bail can be denied only in cases where the suspect faces the death penalty.

The initial reaction to cold-blooded killings was outraged. The first proposals to deal with the serious problem reached too far.

But, after reasonable debate, lawmakers came up with legislation that protected the public without trampling on rights. The proposal passed the Senate unanimously and the House with only four dissenting votes.

This change to the Constitution is necessary and reasonable. We recommend approval.

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