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.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

California - Strengthen Probation - Weaken Prison Population

SACRAMENTO-- Most of what the Schwarzenegger administration proposes in the way of prison reform looks like more of the same: Continue to build more prisons, and staff them with the highest paid correctional officers in the country. But within this mostly designed-to-fail reform effort the governor has included one promising idea.

Tucked away in his proposed budget is something called the California Adult Probation Accountability and Rehabilitation Act. The title is ponderous and bureaucratic, but the idea behind it makes sense.

The governor proposes to set aside $50 million for the rest of this fiscal year and $100 million annually after that funds probation services for criminals ages 18 to 25. These are the violent-crime-prone years, the age span during which young people, especially young men, either solidify their criminal lifestyles or reform.

Experience with juveniles has shown that intensive probation services can help steer risky populations to law-abiding lives. After years of steady and worrisome increases, juvenile crime in California plummeted beginning in the mid-1990s. The state's population of youth ages 10 through 17 increased by almost 26 percent from 1995 to 2005, but the number of juvenile felony arrests declined 48 percent. The number of juveniles incarcerated in the California Youth Authority fell by an astonishing 55 percent in the same period.

What happened? Intensive education, anger management, job training, family intervention, drug and alcohol treatment and mental health screening coordinated by county probation offices helped drive juvenile crime rates down.

Sacramento Bee

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