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.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

New Jersey - Drug Courts Work


NEW JERSEY'S prison population has declined by thousands in the past few years, a good sign that court-managed drug diversion programs are paying off. They have been so effective that the state's Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing wants to see them expanded.

The drug court's diversion programs has kept 6,700 non-violent offenders from having to serve time behind bars since the mid-Nineties. Were it not for the hands-on approach of teams of probation officers, counselors and judges, most of them would be added to the present population of 23,000 inmates being held in the Department of Corrections prison facilities. The strict court-managed monitoring regulates every aspect of the participant's daily life -- down to his curfew. Only 14 percent get rearrested for new offenses, recent drug court figures show.

In a report issued Friday, the New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing recommends reshaping the statutory foundation so that more defendants get access to drug courts. The recommendation would allow defendants with two or more prior third-degree convictions to be eligible for the special probation status that determines who can join the diversion program.

Most often prison-reform advocates push cost savings as a rationale for diversion programs like drug courts. But you can't ignore the blossoming of human potential: That's priceless. Chronic alcohol and drug abusers get sober, begin working steadily and connect with society. Lives are salvaged and the cost of running state prisons is reduced.

The Department of Corrections' new budget estimates spending $34,600 per inmate. The savings potential could be significant: Theoretically every 50 inmates kept out of jail for the next year would represent a savings of about $1.7 million.

Real Cost of Prisons

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