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

NY Times Editorial- Prison Horrors for the Mentally Ill

The State of New York took a step toward basic human decency when it agreed to settle a lawsuit brought on behalf of mentally ill prisoners, who often endure horrific neglect and mistreatment. The settlement, which must be approved by the courts, provides for a range of welcome changes, including better care and monitoring for the severely ill people being held in solitary confinement or disciplinary lockdown, typically for 23 hours a day.

It still falls far short of what’s needed and is not a substitute for the sweeping reforms vetoed by former Gov. George Pataki last year. The Legislature should pass that bill again and Gov. Eliot Spitzer should promptly sign it. Maltreatment of mentally ill prisoners is a national shame. People who suffer from delusions and hallucinations are far more likely than non-disabled prisoners to break rules. When they are confined in their cells, their symptoms worsen. All too often they harm themselves.

A 2003 study found that nearly a quarter of the inmates in lockdown were mentally ill. Of those, nearly 45 percent reported that they had tried suicide and nearly a third reported self-mutilation. The settlement provides slightly better treatment and better suicide prevention in lockdown. But the basic problem is that severely ill inmates should not be held in lockdown at all.


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