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, May 07, 2007

Drug Court on the Western Slope

Drug court gets people's lives back

Relationships key to program's successes

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

May 6, 2007

What is drug court
Drug court is a four-phase program designed to give people with substance abuse problems a chance to improve their lives and avoid conventional punishment. Participants must have a direct link between substance abuse and criminal behavior. They must be sentenced to probation and pass a mental health evaluation. It starts with more intensive testing, court appearances and counseling. As people are promoted to subsequent phases, they gain more freedom and often mentor those new to the program. Sanctions for violations and positive reinforcement for success are used to help guide people through the program.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — There's a black, 1,000-pound telephone sitting on the rail between the audience and the court.

It actually weighs only a couple pounds, but the fake barbell on the phone with "1,000" written on it gives people a simple reminder: It's hard for anyone to pick up the phone and say, "I need help."

That's what drug court is all about - getting help.

"We want people to reach out because one of the biggest risk factors for addicts is isolation," probation officer Terry Shanahan said.

Shanahan took charge of drug court on the probation department's end in March 2006.

At a recent drug court session, Shanahan's pumping everyone up before Judge Denise Lynch comes in. He offers encouraging words and advice to help keep people on track. He discusses second chances. He talks about goings on and good attitudes to have in the drug court community.

"Is softball tonight?" someone asks, excitedly.

Softball games are one outlet drug court uses to develop pro-social activities. The idea is to relearn how to socialize and engage in healthy activities without drugs or alcohol.

That's what drug court is about.

Today no one goes in or out during court. Shanahan says there was some disturbance at a previous session.

"People's lives are on the line here," Shanahan said. "It requires a great degree of commitment and concentration," and there can be no disruptions.
Post Independent Article HERE

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