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Suburban Colorado Political Division Could Lead To Different Approaches In Prosecution

George Brauchler, a former prosecutor who was a face of tough-on-crime politics in Colorado for much of the last decade and a leading voice among death penalty proponents in the state, is close to completing his political comeback.  In late June, he won the Republican primary in the race to become the next district attorney in Denver’s conservative south suburbs, where he already served as DA from 2013 to 2021 and is favored to win in the November general election.  In his latest bid for office, Brauchler is now promising to seek jail time for any adult who steals anything in his jurisdiction, from a candy bar to a car. If Brauchler wins the election in November, he will lose jurisdiction over a significant portion of the area he once governed. This is due to the division of his former 18th Judicial District. The densely populated Douglas County, along with the more distant Elbert and Lincoln counties, are now establishing the newly formed, Republican-leaning 23rd Judicial District, Bolts reports.

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Arapahoe County will now have a DA of its own, rather than share one with its redder neighbors to the south. The frontrunner to win Arapahoe County’s first standalone DA race this year, Democrat Amy Padden, is a reform-minded attorney whose tone is very different from Brauchler’s. She believes that “we need to find alternatives to incarceration.” While Brauchler vows to seek jail time in many low-level cases, Padden said she’s loath to take that approach because it risks destabilizing individuals, families, and, eventually, whole communities.  “Someone is locked up over the weekend, for three days, for however long it is, and they may very well lose their job, their house, have all kinds of consequences,” she told Bolts. “That’s going to increase the chances they may reoffend.” With Brauchler’s and Padden’s opposing agendas, counties that used to form one behemoth district are now poised to take starkly divergent paths. Assuming the new districts adhere to their typical partisan tendencies in November, similar criminal cases might encounter vastly different prosecutorial responses, depending on which side of the newly drawn administrative boundary they fall on.

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