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.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Anatomy of a Fiscal Train Wreck

Mike Krause is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute in Colorado

Opinion Editorial

By Mike Krause

After decades of an ambitious incarceration campaign, Colorado's booming prison population requires thousands of new prison beds.

In other words, Colorado faces a prison spending meltdown that will likely require Governor Ritter and the Democrat Legislature to put aside any grand new spending plans in order to pay for a hugely expensive long-term prison expansion project.

Colorado's prison population is over 22,000 inmates and all available prison capacity is full. In fact, Colorado began shipping inmates off to Oklahoma in late 2006, with more on the way.

Prison population projections by the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice estimate more than 28,000 inmates by 2012. For that same period, the Legislative Council Staff projects over 30,000 inmates.

Split the difference and Colorado needs to build, lease, or otherwise find and pay for more than 1,000 new prison beds every year for the next five years, and it will need to start this massive expansion... about five years ago.

No, seriously. It takes anywhere from three to five years to get a new prison up and running and the only state facility currently under construction—the debt-financed, maximum security Colorado State Penitentiary II—will be filled immediately upon completion sometime in 2009 and there will still be a high-security bed shortage.

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