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.


Saturday, May 05, 2007

A New Bottom Line For the War On Drugs

Posted on Huffington Post in light of the recent tragedy and scandal in Atlanta.
By Bill Piper

Now that two of the Atlanta police officers responsible for killing 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston have pled guilty to manslaughter, planting evidence and a cover-up, it is time for policymakers to change the policies that led to her death. Obvious reforms are requiring substantial evidence before a warrant to raid someone's home is issued and severely limiting the use of "no knock" raids.

Less obvious is the need to change the underlying incentive structure under which law enforcement agencies operate.

Drug war tragedies happen, in part, because law enforcement agencies are graded on such Vietnam-like "body count" statistics as the amount of drugs seized and the number of people arrested. Yet arrests and seizures have little if any impact on drug availability or the problems associated with substance abuse. Furthermore, measuring success by these statistics alone can breed corruption and impropriety.

Because the amount of funding narcotics taskforces receive is often based on how many people they arrest and the amount of drugs they seize, individual officers can advance their careers significantly by making a large number of arrests, even if they are just drug users. This incentive structure has led to fabricating informants, raiding homes on false evidence, lying to judges, and planting evidence. Anything to increase the "body count." Federal prosecutor David Nahmias recently told The New York Times:

"The [Atlanta] officers...were not corrupt in the sense that we have seen before. They are not accused of seeking payoffs or trying to rob drug dealers or trying to protect gang members. Their goal was to arrest drug dealers and seize illegal drugs, and that's what we want our police officers to do for our community. But these officers pursued that goal by corrupting the justice system, because when it was hard to do their job the way the Constitution requires, they let the ends justify their means."
Posted on Huffington Post

1 comment:

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