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.

Monday, April 16, 2007

60 Minutes -- Maximum Security Education

This show aired on 60 minutes last night:

(CBS) The United States is good at getting criminals into prison: we have over two million people incarcerated right now, more than any other Western country. But what we're not good at is keeping them out once they've served their time—half of all ex-cons end up right back in the penitentiary.

No one doubts that one of the best ways to rehabilitate criminals is through educating them while they're in prison, but who wants to pay for prisoners to go to college when most people have trouble coughing up money for their own kids' education?

Correspondent Bob Simon found one college that does. Bard, an elite private college is offering true liberal arts degrees to some inmates in New York state. It's not what you’d imagine goes on behind the bars of a maximum security prison. And by the way, the program doesn't cost taxpayers a dime.

It looks and sounds like an ordinary college graduation ceremony: there are caps and gowns, the handing out of diplomas. But a group of men receiving their degrees from Bard College will not be leaving to go out and make their mark on the world—they are inmates at the Eastern Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in New York state.

Most prisoners ended up at Eastern Correctional Facility by committing violent crimes, like assault, rape, and murder, with sentences ranging from seven years to life. It’s not the type of place you'd expect to walk into and find the inmates studying 18th century European history.

The Bard College program, which is privately funded, has been in this prison for six years and the academics are tough. One inmate tells Simon he and other inmates study five or six hours a day, outside of class, to make the grade. 60 Minutes

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