Letter to the editor: Stay involved if you want reform, oversight and accountability
While not Colorado legislation, implications of NY Bill A416 warrants attention of us all. Under A416, the governor and health commissioner would have the authority to detain persons deemed to be a health threat “by a case, contact or carrier, or suspected case … in the opinion of the governor.”
Detainment similar to criminal law:
- A person can be detained for up to three business days without a hearing. If detention includes a weekend or holiday, a person may be detained for six days without a hearing.
- “In no event shall any person be detained more than 60 days without a court order …”
Aside from rights violations, we should all be concerned about the potential for abuse of such power. Examples of abuse are prevalent throughout the criminal and immigration systems. Prosecutors specifically target detention to begin on a holiday or weekend to intentionally extend detention timelines. Colorado Senate Bill 20-172 addressed this issue at the state level, requiring a hearing within 48 hours of detention regardless of weekends or holidays. However, this legislation has no bearing on federal authorities.
- “… shall be detained in a medical facility or other appropriate facility or … premises designated by the governor …”
Recent history shows how quickly this type of provision can go wrong. Examples include ICE detention camps and commercialization of justice system detention facilities.
Involuntary medical treatment:
- “… require an individual who has been exposed to or infected by a contagious disease to complete an appropriate, prescribed course of treatment, preventative medication or vaccination, including directly observed therapy …”
Currently, authority to inject persons with ketamine without consent has resulted in medical complications and death.
With recent justice reform discussion, legislation extending authorities already proven abused is surprising. Many of us only pay attention to politics at elections. If we truly want reform, oversight and accountability, we must remain involved.
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