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 30, 2007

Women in the Fields

Using prisoners for farm labor has been a big topic in the last few months, the pilot program that the Department of Corrections wants to start will be right outside of Pueblo. How many prisons do we have in Pueblo? Just one, and it's a women's minimum security prison. Yep, they are putting the girls to work in those fields.

Two Fridays ago, a carful of Mexican workers showed up at Pisciotta's office off Highway 50, but it's not clear whether more will follow. Hedging his bets, Pisciotta, along with a handful of other local farmers, has signed on to a pilot program with the Colorado Corrections Department that could supply them with 10-member crews of low-security female prisoners.

The program has made headlines well beyond Colorado, and not because of the proposal to use prison labor. Rather, it's the scheme's easy equivalence between undocumented workers and U.S. citizens who've been convicted of crimes and stripped of their rights. Sure, nativists long have tried to persuade us that crossing the border without papers is equivalent to committing a capital crime. But the fact that a group of Colorado farmers has turned to prisoners to meet labor needs says a whole lot about why so many U.S. employers prefer illegal immigrant labor in the first place — it's cheap, dependable yet impermanent, and, well, they have no rights either.


1 comment:

Jim Dodd said...

Perhaps if the "farmers" paid a living wage, they could get people to work. For far too long, we have depended on peonage to put food on our tables at "reasonable prices."