Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

California's Plan to Curb America's Overmedication of Foster Kids

Governing

In the United States, low-income and foster-care kids are prescribed psychotropic drugs at an alarmingly higher rate than their peers in America or abroad. Governing recently wrote about the problem and what states are doing to deal with it in March. But since then, California began closing in on a package of bills that could make the state a leader in controlling overmedication.

Earlier this month, the California state Senate unanimously passed four bills that would strengthen the state’s monitoring system for foster kids' prescriptions, require stronger evidence documenting the need for medications, add more medical expertise in the area of oversight and force group homes that overprescribe to develop plans to change their practices. Some of those ideas aren't new, but experts say adopting all of them together could make California a model.

"We feel pretty confident that this package of four bills is really more comprehensive and targets so many different aspects of the problem that other states really have not been targeting,” said Bill Grimm of the National Center for Youth Law, the group behind the legislation.

Psychotropic drugs range from amphetamines, which are often prescribed for ADHD, to antidepressants and antipsychotics. Antipsychotics were originally intended for the treatment of severe mental health illnesses but have increasingly been prescribed to children with behavior issues since the 1990s. Numerous studies show low-income children, particularly those in foster care, are prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates far above privately insured kids. The Office of Inspector General has raised alarms in numerous reports. Since 2011, federal authorities have required states to report annually about steps they’re taking to curb psychotropic prescriptions.

California is one of only a few states that requires a judge to approve prescriptions for psychotropic drugs, but according to an investigative newspaper series, it still prescribed them to about a quarter of foster kids (compared to just 4.8 percent of privately insured children), over the past decade. The bills would revamp the court system of prior approval. The form that doctors submit to judges, for instance, would have to show that doctors tried other therapeutic services first. Judges would also have the power to request a second opinion or return the form for more information, and doctors would have to get the written consent of children 14 and older. The bill also offers training to everyone from judges to group-home employees on the appropriate uses of these drugs and expands data-sharing between the Medicaid system that pays for care and the child welfare system. 


The two most notable changes, though, are increased monitoring of group homes and expanded use of nurses -- both of which are uncommon. The newspaper series highlighted links between group homes for foster kids and high rates of prescription medications, which children often had to take as a condition of staying there. With better data-sharing, state officials would flag group homes with the highest rates of psychotropic prescribing and require them to make plans to reduce overmedication. Nurses, meanwhile, would monitor the side effects of antipsychotics such as serious weight gain, diabetes and neurological disorders.

The bills haven’t encountered opposition, but they still need to pass the California Assembly and get the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown who's been fairly quiet on the issue even though it generated a lot of interest after the newspaper investigation. The bills come at an estimated cost of $5 million in the first year, with about $4 million thereafter. To Anna Johnson, a policy analyst with the National Center for Youth Law, Brown's reputation as a budget hawk means he's less likely to support the bill package.
“His main legacy here has been that he’s had this balanced budget, but for foster kids [for] whom every day feels like a rainy day, we feel like he could do more to protect them,” she said.
When asked for his opinion on the package of bills, his press office said Brown doesn’t typically comment on pending legislation.

 
Shadi Houshyar, vice president of child welfare policy at the advocacy group First Focus, agrees that the bills would be a positive step, but she also thinks states are generally behind on an element that’s critical to actually replace drugs: access to services like intensive counseling and individualized case management.
“The biggest challenge is how you increase the use of evidence-based therapies for kids in addition to the monitoring strategies,” she said.

The way to do that, according to Houshyar, is to offer those services through Medicaid, which allows states to leverage federal funding, and make them accessible through child welfare departments. Some notable examples of places that do that are Arizona -- which has a Medicaid plan specifically for foster children -- Michigan and New Jersey.

For California, the money is there, said Grimm. Since 2004, the state has raised $13 billion for mental health services from a ballot measure that raised taxes on people earning more than $1 million a year. But an independent state oversight agency found recently that much of the spending is unaccountable and poorly prioritized, with little sense of exactly how the money is being spent and what it’s producing. Grimm’s group wants to ensure that money is going to children in the foster-care system.

 “There is a considerable amount of money and resources out there,” he said. “The question is to what extent is that money being used for children?”

Healthcare matters


Germany's Kinder, Gentler, Safer Prisons

The Marshall Project

On Sunday, bleary after an overnight flight from New York, a group of American criminal justice professionals squeezed into a private room in a downtown Berlin restaurant. They were preparing to visit German prisons and meet German prison officials. The trip, organized by the Vera Institute, a think tank based in New York, is all about studying another system so that we might better understand our own.
From the brief introductions, it was clear that this trip would be as much about the United States as about Europe. Germany’s system of sentencing (15 years is the longest most people go to prison here unless they are demonstrably dangerous) and incarceration (open, sunny prisons, full of fresh air, where prisoners wear their own clothes) serves as a reference point for reflecting on the punitive mentality that has come to define the U.S. justice system.
In Germany, then, we would see ourselves—but through a looking glass.
The American travelers—corrections officials, district attorneys, academics, and activists—represent the variety of perspectives that fall under what journalists have taken to calling the “emerging consensus” on criminal justice reform. There are the guys who run prisons and worry about recidivism numbers. There are elected district attorneys wondering how the public responds to such short sentences. And then there are reform activists determined to see prisoners treated humanely.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Women in Prison


Basket Registry


Colorado Prison Facts


After A Year Of Freedom, Parolee Kevin Monteiro Still Carries Weight Of His Past -

NPR

One year ago -- on June 10, 2014 -- Kevin Monteiro was released after nearly 30 years in prison for second-degree murder. That day, Monteiro was dropped off by a prison van at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Denver with a prison-issued debit card, and says he felt completely lost.
“I had a hundred dollars in my pocket and a box of books," remembers Monteiro. "No family, nobody.”
Now, a year after his first day of freedom, Monteiro told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that he's built a life for himself. He has a steady job, his own apartment, and he's reconnecting with relatives. Putting all of that together wasn't easy though.
“Prison is a funny thing. At first when you go in you hate it. There’s a stage you go through. Then you come to accept it. Then you come to depend on it," he said.
Breaking out of the routine took a lot of time, effort and luck, Monteiro said. It was bad enough that at one point he actually wanted to go back to prison. But those days are now passed, he said. 
“I don’t miss prison. There’s times I miss some of the people I left behind in prison," he said. "There are some good people inside and they are worth saving.”
Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation, and read highlights below.
- See more at: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/after-year-freedom-parolee-kevin-monteiro-still-carries-weight-his-past#sthash.E0Wrllja.KYvhthiF.dpuf


One year ago -- on June 10, 2014 -- Kevin Monteiro was released after nearly 30 years in prison for second-degree murder. That day, Monteiro was dropped off by a prison van at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Denver with a prison-issued debit card, and says he felt completely lost.
“I had a hundred dollars in my pocket and a box of books," remembers Monteiro. "No family, nobody.”
Now, a year after his first day of freedom, Monteiro told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that he's built a life for himself. He has a steady job, his own apartment, and he's reconnecting with relatives. Putting all of that together wasn't easy though.
“Prison is a funny thing. At first when you go in you hate it. There’s a stage you go through. Then you come to accept it. Then you come to depend on it," he said.
Breaking out of the routine took a lot of time, effort and luck, Monteiro said. It was bad enough that at one point he actually wanted to go back to prison. But those days are now passed, he said. 
“I don’t miss prison. There’s times I miss some of the people I left behind in prison," he said. "There are some good people inside and they are worth saving.”
Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation, and read highlights below.
 
On the difference between what he planned and what's happened
"My plans were totally different. What I planned ... is totally different to what’s happening in my life now. There’s a big difference when you have friends. Coming out of prison with no family, with no one that really cares is one thing. But when you come out and people care about you and people give you a chance, that’s really amazing.”
On having a weak immune system after decades inside
“Because I did so much time, and a lot of my time was in isolation, so when I did come out of prison, I noticed that I catch colds a lot. This last cold I had, I actually went to the hospital and they actually had to give me a steroid and antibiotics. But when [a nurse] took the blood and did an examination on me, she said your immune system is very weak and very low. So I kind of drag colds along with me.”
On giving advice to fellow parolees
“What an ex-offender or parolee has to do is, number one, be very honest with themselves. And always remember that the number one thing in an offender’s life is his victim. Always remember your victim. Don’t ever separate that. I took a life. ... [T]hat’s something I can never fix. So that victim is always in my mind.”
- See more at: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/after-year-freedom-parolee-kevin-monteiro-still-carries-weight-his-past#sthash.E0Wrllja.KYvhthiF.dpuf

One year ago -- on June 10, 2014 -- Kevin Monteiro was released after nearly 30 years in prison for second-degree murder. That day, Monteiro was dropped off by a prison van at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Denver with a prison-issued debit card, and says he felt completely lost.
“I had a hundred dollars in my pocket and a box of books," remembers Monteiro. "No family, nobody.”
Now, a year after his first day of freedom, Monteiro told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that he's built a life for himself. He has a steady job, his own apartment, and he's reconnecting with relatives. Putting all of that together wasn't easy though.
“Prison is a funny thing. At first when you go in you hate it. There’s a stage you go through. Then you come to accept it. Then you come to depend on it," he said.
Breaking out of the routine took a lot of time, effort and luck, Monteiro said. It was bad enough that at one point he actually wanted to go back to prison. But those days are now passed, he said. 
“I don’t miss prison. There’s times I miss some of the people I left behind in prison," he said. "There are some good people inside and they are worth saving.”
Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation, and read highlights below.
 
On the difference between what he planned and what's happened
"My plans were totally different. What I planned ... is totally different to what’s happening in my life now. There’s a big difference when you have friends. Coming out of prison with no family, with no one that really cares is one thing. But when you come out and people care about you and people give you a chance, that’s really amazing.”
On having a weak immune system after decades inside
“Because I did so much time, and a lot of my time was in isolation, so when I did come out of prison, I noticed that I catch colds a lot. This last cold I had, I actually went to the hospital and they actually had to give me a steroid and antibiotics. But when [a nurse] took the blood and did an examination on me, she said your immune system is very weak and very low. So I kind of drag colds along with me.”
On giving advice to fellow parolees
“What an ex-offender or parolee has to do is, number one, be very honest with themselves. And always remember that the number one thing in an offender’s life is his victim. Always remember your victim. Don’t ever separate that. I took a life. ... [T]hat’s something I can never fix. So that victim is always in my mind.”
- See more at: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/after-year-freedom-parolee-kevin-monteiro-still-carries-weight-his-past#sthash.E0Wrllja.KYvhthiF.dpuf
One year ago -- on June 10, 2014 -- Kevin Monteiro was released after nearly 30 years in prison for second-degree murder. That day, Monteiro was dropped off by a prison van at the Greyhound bus station in downtown Denver with a prison-issued debit card, and says he felt completely lost.
“I had a hundred dollars in my pocket and a box of books," remembers Monteiro. "No family, nobody.”
Now, a year after his first day of freedom, Monteiro told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner that he's built a life for himself. He has a steady job, his own apartment, and he's reconnecting with relatives. Putting all of that together wasn't easy though.
“Prison is a funny thing. At first when you go in you hate it. There’s a stage you go through. Then you come to accept it. Then you come to depend on it," he said.
Breaking out of the routine took a lot of time, effort and luck, Monteiro said. It was bad enough that at one point he actually wanted to go back to prison. But those days are now passed, he said. 
“I don’t miss prison. There’s times I miss some of the people I left behind in prison," he said. "There are some good people inside and they are worth saving.”
Click the audio player above to hear the full conversation, and read highlights below.
 
On the difference between what he planned and what's happened
"My plans were totally different. What I planned ... is totally different to what’s happening in my life now. There’s a big difference when you have friends. Coming out of prison with no family, with no one that really cares is one thing. But when you come out and people care about you and people give you a chance, that’s really amazing.”
On having a weak immune system after decades inside
“Because I did so much time, and a lot of my time was in isolation, so when I did come out of prison, I noticed that I catch colds a lot. This last cold I had, I actually went to the hospital and they actually had to give me a steroid and antibiotics. But when [a nurse] took the blood and did an examination on me, she said your immune system is very weak and very low. So I kind of drag colds along with me.”
On giving advice to fellow parolees
“What an ex-offender or parolee has to do is, number one, be very honest with themselves. And always remember that the number one thing in an offender’s life is his victim. Always remember your victim. Don’t ever separate that. I took a life. ... [T]hat’s something I can never fix. So that victim is always in my mind.”
- See more at: https://www.cpr.org/news/story/after-year-freedom-parolee-kevin-monteiro-still-carries-weight-his-past#sthash.E0Wrllja.KYvhthiF.dpuf

Coming Straight Home From Solitary Damages Inmates and their Families

NPR
The thing Sara Garcia remembers from the day her son, Mark, got out of prison was the hug — the very, very awkward hug. He had just turned 21 and for the past two and a half years, he'd been in solitary confinement.

"He's not used to anyone touching him," Garcia says. "So he's not used to hugs. And I mean we grabbed him. I mean, we hugged him. We held him. I mean, it was just surreal to just know I can finally give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek."

Mark, who was released directly from solitary confinement into his mother's arms, is one of tens of thousands of inmates that NPR and The Marshall Project — a journalism group that focuses on the criminal justice system — found as part of a state-by-state survey. We wanted to know: How many people are released directly from solitary confinement to the streets?


There were at least 10,000 in 2014. That's from information provided by just 24 states. The other 26 states — as well as the federal prison system — say they don't count, or couldn't provide, numbers.
Often, inmates in solitary confinement serve all or most of their sentence. So when they are released, they don't get parole services to help with re-entry that's offered to most ex-prisoners.

Mental health experts and researchers say that long stays in solitary confinement often emotionally damage people, both teens and adults, and can create lifelong mental illness. When those prisoners come home, they often struggle to get along with people, including the family members they depend upon most.

Prison officials say they need solitary confinement to control the most violent prisoners. In Texas, for example, it's used often to break up prison gangs.

Garcia's son went to a Texas prison for robbing a store with a gun. At the time, he was 14. She says that her son was manipulated by some older men; prosecutors say he acted alone.

Just days after he turned 18, Mark was moved to an adult prison. When his mother came to visit, he told her that he was afraid of the older inmates.

More From This Investigation

This story was reported in partnership between NPR News Investigations and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system. Continue reading this investigation on The Marshall Project's website: From Solitary To The Street. You can read the first part of the NPR report here.

From Solitary to the Street

NPR
In prison, Brian Nelson lived in solitary confinement. That meant 23 hours a day in a small cell. No human contact, except with guards — for 12 years straight.

Then, his prison sentence for murder was over. One moment he was locked down. The next, he was free.
NPR and The Marshall Project, an online journalism group that focuses on the criminal justice system, investigated the release of tens of thousands of prisoners from solitary confinement to find out how many prisoners, like Nelson, go straight from solitary to the streets.


What was stunning is that most prison systems say they have no idea.
The Marshall Project and NPR surveyed all 50 states. About half reported they don't keep track or could not provide numbers of which inmates go straight home from solitary. And a recent audit for the federal Bureau of Prisons said it doesn't keep numbers, either.

But our tally from the 24 states that say they count shows that last year, at least 10,000 inmates came straight out of solitary.

Yet inmates released from solitary often need the most help — and get the least.

In solitary, they're cut off from things that help with re-entry. There are no education classes, no job training; and when they are released, they often get less supervision than other prisoners.
When Nelson's mother picked him up at the distant supermax prison in Tamms, Ill., he told her how he was given a television during his last year of solitary and kept seeing ads for a fast-food ice cream.
"And I kept seeing a Blizzard. I kept seeing these Blizzards. And I'm like, 'God that looks so good.' So all I wanted was a Blizzard," he says.

On the drive home, they stopped for a Blizzard at a Dairy Queen.

"And I'm standing there and a guy walked behind me. And I was not used to people being that close to me. And I started cussing. I turned around, I'm ready to fight because I thought I don't know if he's going to attack me," Nelson recalls. "I have prison mentality in my mind. And then I looked up and saw my mom crying, like 'Oh my God, what have they done to him?' You know, because I couldn't handle being around people."

That was five years ago. It's still hard for Nelson, 50, to be around people.

About This Investigation
This story was reported in partnership between NPR News Investigations and The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization that covers the U.S. criminal justice system.
Read more of this investigation from The Marshall Project: From Solitary To The Street.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Denver neighbors concerned about planned methadone clinic on E. Colfax


 A planned medical clinic serving recovering drug addicts on East Colfax Avenue has upset some nearby residents, who are angry about, among other things, the proximity to Denver East High School.
The Denver Recovery Group, 2822 E. Colfax Ave., is under construction and could open sometime next month, but residents who live nearby and who have students attending East High School are worried about their children walking past the clinic, the possibility of increased crime, loitering and decreased property values.

"Having that activity doesn't strike me as a good idea," resident Alison Laevey said.
Residents will be able to get more information, ask questions and voice concerns at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 21 at East High School.

The Denver Recovery Group is a startup medical clinic that will provide medication and assistance to recovering addicts of heroin, painkillers and other drugs. One of the common treatment drugs is methadone, a synthetic opioid that helps patients kick heroin and morphine addictions. Methadone is not the only drug dispensed at the clinic.

The same owners also have a clinic in Las Cruces, N.M. called Alt Recovery Center.
Despite concerns, Denver Recovery Group partner Chad Tewksbury said the need is present in the area and he believes there is a misconception about the clientele.

"It's more dangerous to walk past the addicts already on Colfax," Tewksbury said. "No one is forced to come here. They're coming voluntarily."

Some of the surrounding neighborhoods also voiced concerns last year when a similar clinic moved to 1620 Gaylord St. from two blocks north. That clinic is part of Addiction Research and Treatment Services run by the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Addiction Research and Treatment Services executive director Tom Brewster said things have run smoothly since the clinic moved in October. He added that rather than increase crime, these facilities should help reduce crime and help the growing number of drug addicts in Denver.
"This is really a problem; we're trying to address it," Brewster said. "We can hardly keep up."

Another nearby clinic, the BHG Denver Downtown Treatment Center near 18th Avenue and Josephine Street, is scheduled to move in the coming months, leaving a void in the area.
Denver City Councilwoman Jeanne Robb, who represents the area, said she has met with several residents who are upset over the plans and her office is in the process of looking into how this is handled in other areas of the state and across the country.

"Unfortunately, right now we have no restrictions," Robb said. "It's classified as a medical clinic."
The zoning permit for the clinic was approved in January by the city and Tewksbury said he has a three-year lease.

Resident Robert Mutch said he and his wife had put about $150,000 into refurbishing his house, less than a block away from the clinic, but he's now considering moving rather than doing more work.
"All of the neighbors are just livid about it," he said.

Tewksbury said he chose this area because he collaborated with the State Opioid Treatment Authority and identified this as a place that needs this type of clinic. It's also on the bus route. He said he's already receiving calls asking when the clinic will open so clients can transfer.
"I'm passionate about what we're doing," he said.
Joe Vaccarelli: 303-954-2396, jvaccarelli@denverpost.com or twitter.com/joe_vacc
Community meeting:
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Date: Tuesday, April 21
Where: Denver East High School, 1600 City Park Esplanade

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Take Care - Health Matters: Hassan Latif, Executive Director, Second Cha...

Take Care Health Matters


 http://takecarehealthmatters.org/

We are very excited to share with you the launch of the Take Care Health Matters website. The website serves as a tool and resource to assist justice involved individuals access health care due to the new opportunities under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This website is part of CCJRC’s larger health care access campaign, which we have been engaged in over the past year with our partners the Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP).

TELL YOUR STORY!!!
http://takecarehealthmatters.org/stories/tell-your-story

An estimated 70% - 90% of justice involved individuals in Colorado are currently uninsured. The ACA offers unprecedented opportunities to help connect these justice involved individuals with health care. Not only do we believe the ACA promotes alternatives to the overuse of the criminal justice system, but connecting justice involved individuals with health care has been shown to reduce recidivism and improve the health and lives of individuals. The ACA also provides an opportunity to treat mental health and addiction disorders as a public health issue, not a criminal issue.
We are hopeful this website serves as a resource to increase the number of justice involved individuals who are able to utilize and access health care services in Colorado.
Specific on the website you'll find:

  • Video stories from both justice involved individuals and criminal justice staff sharing the importance of health care
  • A research library highlighting the significance and impact the ACA can have on justice involved individuals
  • Resources for justice involved individuals on who to contact to enroll in and access health care services, including behavioral health
  • Recorded webinars for health care, criminal justice, and community members
  • A professional guide geared towards health care, criminal justice, and community members to establish relationships and connect with one another
  • How to find a health care provider
  • And much, much more………
We encourage you to take a look at the website and spend some time learning from the stories and information. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
We are extremely grateful for our partnership with CCLP and all of you who have helped contribute to this project. While the ACA offers new strategies to reform the criminal justice system, we know there are challenges and gaps in health care services, particularly for mental health and substance abuse treatment. CCJRC will continue to engage in, monitor, and work to improve the ability for justice involved individuals to enroll in and access health care. As always, we appreciate your continued support as we work to end mass incarceration and promote healthcare as a human right

CCJRC Weekly Legislative Update

CCJRC


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Guest commentary: Criminal Justice Reform Doesn't Mean Being Soft on Crime



he facts are clear: The United States has 5 percent of the world's population but almost 25 percent of the world's prisoners. With more than 2 million people in jails and prisons, the U.S. leads the industrialized world in both incarceration rates and total numbers.

In addition, prisons have become the default accommodation for people with mental illness and drug addictions, and treatment is minimal. Not surprisingly, recidivism rates are extremely high: Close to half of the people released from prison return within three years.


It's no secret that felony convictions and incarceration lead to a drop in earnings, higher unemployment, and reduced future opportunities. Unless this trend is reversed, the path from poverty to self-sufficiency will remain elusive.

Some states, including Colorado, are working to revamp their outdated justice systems. On the federal level, we are pleased to see organizations normally on opposite sides of the political spectrum — like the ACLU and Koch Industries — try to achieve true reform and consensus.

No matter our political party affiliation, our shared goals should be to improve public safety by lowering crime rates; reduce re-offending; promote personal responsibility; and use evidence-based practices during probation and parole to focus on treatment.

We seek a more victim- and community-centered process that addresses victims' needs for restitution and recovery. Our criminal justice system should align incentives with human nature and reward positive behavior and outcomes. 

We should all be able to agree upon a variety of measures to fix our criminal justice system, to specifically address over-criminalization and mass incarceration while lowering costs. Ending mandatory minimum sentences and allowing judges to do their jobs is one reasonable step. Mandatory minimum sentences are knee-jerk reactions that result in long-term incarceration and expand prison budgets with no increase in public safety.


Another practical approach is the problem-solving courts we use very successfully in Colorado for drugs, mental health, family dependency/neglect and veteran trauma issues. If an offender is committed to doing the hard work to recover, let's use Drug Court and send them to rehab rather than putting them in prison and prolonging their bad habits.

Colorado funds Veterans Court using state money and federal grant money. U.S. military veterans who are eligible for the program and who suffer from disorders like PTSD, domestic violence, mental health and substance abuse can get treatment rather than be incarcerated. Trauma Courts are an effective way to repay the obligation to our veterans with significant savings and benefits both to them and to our communities.
Colorado has been a national leader in adopting restorative justice in our criminal and juvenile justice systems. Restorative justice is a process that emphasizes repairing the harm to victims and the community rather than focusing on punishment and incarceration. It is a powerful transformative process that has demonstrated recidivism rates of less than 10 percent.

The "schools-to-jail pipeline" that has criminalized in-school conduct with ineffective zero-tolerance policies has resulted in more than 100,000 students being referred to law enforcement. Reducing contact with law enforcement and using restorative justice practices will ensure our youth are given the best chance for success.

Criminal justice reform doesn't mean we are "soft on crime." It means we are being smart about not making everything a crime. We encourage our state legislators and members of Congress to work together to support these efforts.
B.J. Nikkel, a Republican from Loveland, served in the Colorado House from 2009 to 2012. State Rep. Pete Lee, a Democrat from Colorado Springs, has served in the Colorado House since 2011.