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.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

California Prison Budget To Trump Colleges

Here in Colorado we aren't far behind as our prison budget grew nearly as much as our budget for higher education this year. Our Higher Ed budget increase was barely a of million dollars more than our prison budget increase. It's a dangerous and disturbing trend that is being played out. The minute we took one dollar out of our education budget to fund prisons was when the train wreck began.

James Sterngold, Chronicle Staff Writer
Monday, May 21, 2007

As the costs for fixing the state's troubled corrections system rocket higher, California is headed for a dubious milestone -- for the first time the state will spend more on incarcerating inmates than on educating students in its public universities.

Based on current spending trends, California's prison budget will overtake spending on the state's universities in five years. No other big state in the country spends close to as much on its prisons compared with universities.

But California has all but guaranteed that prisons will eat up an increasingly large share of taxpayer money because of chronic failures in a system that the state is now planning to expand.

Under a new state law, California will spend $7.4 billion to build 40,000 new prison beds, and that is over and above the current annual operating budget of more than $10 billion. Interest payments alone on the billions of dollars of bonds that will be sold to finance the new construction will amount to $330 million a year by 2011 -- all money that will not be available for higher education or other state priorities.

"California is just off the charts compared with other states in corrections spending," said Michael Jacobson, director of the Vera Institute of Justice in New York, a leading research organization. "Budgets are a zero-sum game, essentially. The money for corrections comes from other places. The shame of it is that California could have improved crime rates and a better funded higher education system if they ran things better."REAL COST OF PRISONS

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