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.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Prison Women Working on Farms

The farmers are paying 9.60 an hour for women in prison to work on their farms. The women are only making 60 cents a day. The last report that we heard was that they were looking forward to bonus incentives that would equal 4.50 an hour for working on the farms. This report says that bonus only equals out to $2.00 a day. Where is the rest of the money going? DOC only has to pay for transportation, a sack lunch and one officer to guard the women all day long. Just do the math.
Ten women working 8 hours a day is 768.00 a day or 3,840.00 a week. Even if the guard is making $20.00 an hour that's only $160.00. Maybe $100.00 for gas for the van, that's about 266.00. So where does the other $500 a day go? Not to the women who are working in the fields. That money would sure go a long way into paying off restitution and give them something to work with when they are released.

A small crew of women inmates from a medium security prison in Pueblo is pioneering a new concept on local farms - using inmate labor to replace Mexican migrant workers who aren't here this summer because of the inhospitable climate of Colorado immigration law.

State Rep. Dorothy Butcher, D-Pueblo, proposed the idea last summer, when some farmers said they were unable to get their crops harvested in the wake of a special legislative session that enacted some of the most stringent immigration measures in the nation.

The pilot project under the Department of Corrections' industrial program features 10 women from La Vista prison in Pueblo, formerly called Pueblo Minimum Center. The prison was renamed when it was upgraded to a medium security facility.

This week, the inmates were at work hoeing weeds on the farm of Joe Pisciotta Jr. near Avondale. In the past three weeks, they also worked at farms of Russ and Patti Dionisio and Steve Mauro.

Pisciotta said the farmers are paying the DOC $9.60 per hour for the inmates, compared to the minimum wage of $6.85 for a migrant farm worker. The inmates get 60 cents a day, and they also may receive incentive bonuses up to $2 a day on Correctional Industries jobs, according to Katherine Sanguinetti of the DOC. The rest of the farmer's payment goes for the expenses including a guard and transportation.Pueblo Chieftain

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