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 08, 2007

How Long Does He Get Punished For?

When Weldon Long got out of prison in 2003, the only job he could find was working for a heating and air conditioning company. Nobody else wanted to hire a convicted felon.

After work slowed and Long lost his job, he started his own company, then befriended an ex-policeman who offered to bankroll him. Today, Long is the region’s largest mechanical contractor.

Long faces a hearing Wednesday that could threaten the life he rebuilt after nearly two decades of crime and incarceration. He has asked the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department to upgrade the license he needs to do heating and air conditioning work.

That application is at the center of the building department’s struggle to balance protecting the public from unsafe contractors against a rehabilitated felon’s right to make an honest living.

At issue is how convicted felons disclose their criminal history when they apply for a license and how vigorous the department is in learning about the applicant. In Long’s case, the building department could grant his upgraded license, deny it, or even revoke his existing license, effectively forcing him out of the company.

Long, 43, has been waiting more than two months for an answer on his application. He said he has paid for his crimes and created a successful firm that employs 50 people.

“I have worked hard these last two years to build a company on a solid foundation of integrity and sound business philosophies,” Long said. “These last two months have been like everything was turned upside down. It is like somebody threw a switch and turned the hourglass over.”

The building code under which the department operates bars people convicted of felonies committed in “work related to the building trades.” Until 2005, the agency didn’t ask contractors about their criminal records.

Bob Croft, the department’s operations manager, said the agency doesn’t know how many convicted felons hold contractor licenses because the agency hasn’t done background checks on all license holders.
Colorado Springs Gazette

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