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 23, 2007

Hudson Braces For Prison Battle

Laura Moreland and Phil Tidwell have worked tirelessly to bring the truth to light amid the propaganda that private prisons put out to residents of small towns. Cornell is touting the need for a 1,250 bed women's prison that we simply don't need. We don't have the growth to support that kind of prison which means that Cornell will be importing prisoners from other states to fill those beds.

Hudson - Hope for this small prairie town may lie in a proposed women's prison, supporters say.

But other residents say a prison could ruin the town.

A 1,250-bed facility could bring in enough jobs and revenue so Hudson could pave its streets, hire its own police force and become a growing hub like its neighbors.

But some say a prison doesn't mean progress. They have launched an anti-prison campaign like the successful one in Ault - another struggling Weld County town. There a private prison was touted as an antidote for a dreary economy but was attacked as a blight on the community.

"I can't imagine a worse image for Hudson right now," said Laura Moreland, who started Citizens Against the Hudson Prison. "I don't see people saying 'Let's move to Hudson with its truck stop and prison and build a home."'

Moreland wants Hudson's 500 or so registered voters to say "no" to the Cornell Companies Inc. prison on May 8. That's when they will be asked to rezone 320 acres of mostly scrub brush just northwest of I-76.

If the rezoning is approved, the town will annex the land and the prison will be built on about 40 acres, say town officials.

Mayor Neal Pontius said he's happy to let the voters decide something so controversial.

Moreland - who lives in nearby Fort Lupton - said the prison will reflect badly on not only the town but on nearby homes and ranches. She also is attacking assertions that the prison will bring up to 147 jobs to Hudson and pump $27.5 million into the town over its first 10 years.

She cites a Denver consultant's report - Harvey Economics - that says benefits of a prison will be overshadowed by infrastructure costs, water and utilities woes, and security risks.

"People are saying 'Well, this will pave our streets.' But at what cost?" Moreland said. "The growth will eventually come here, so let's don't rely on a prison."

The Houston, Texas-based Cornell was awarded the $16 million annual contract to build the Hudson prison last year by the Colorado Department of Corrections. The company runs prisons in 18 states, including a youth facility in CaƱon City.

Locating a medium-security prison in Hudson was considered ideal because it is away from a major population center but still close to the metro area, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan. Hudson is about a 25-minute drive from Denver.

Ault was also considered a good spot for a 1,500-inmate men's prison to be built by GEO Group Inc. last year. But those plans have since stalled, due in part to questions over whether a prison official worked improperly with GEO to win the Ault contract.

"The bottom line was that only some town board members and a few businesses wanted the prison," said Ault resident Phil Tidwell, who led the anti-prison push.

Denver Post

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