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, June 09, 2007

Lost and Found Losing Ground

Back in July of 2006, Medicaid cut off money to most of the youth treatment facilities in Colorado after a billing snafu was discovered. Instead of finding a way to continue the funding, the government just cut them off. Now they are dealing with a community that doesn't want them there and their limited funding is being dealt out in legal fees. Places like Lost and Found who take in kids whose parents don't have the money to put them into expensive treatment facilities are few and far between. Westword does a great job (thanks, Adam!!!) of exploring what's going on with this organization.

When Jose was three, he watched his father tie a rope around his mother's neck and attach it to the back of a Ford F-150. His father then drove off, dragging his mother behind and leaving Jose alone on the sidewalk in front of the family's house. Jose's mother spent two weeks in the hospital after that, where doctors had to wire-scrub her entire back to remove the asphalt and remaining skin before conducting elaborate reconstructive surgery. She still has the scars. Then Jose's father was sent to prison for seventeen years for murdering a man, and it was just Jose and his mom. Harl Hargett came up with a plan to consolidate Lost and Found's facilities at Singing River Ranch.

Not for long, though. His mother soon had two more boys, and when Jose was seven, she moved them all into the house of a man named Brad. Brad abused Jose's mother, too, screaming at her and hitting her, once even knocking out some of her teeth. He abused Jose as well, throwing stuff at him and hitting him with a belt whenever he squabbled with his little brothers. Jose would escape and wander the streets. Finally, a bowling alley where he showed up a few times begging for food called social services. Jose was eight years old.

"They came to my mom's restaurant," Jose recalls. "Then they asked her where my brothers were. She told them, and they collected all three of us and took us to a facility in Adams County."

And so began Jose's life in the system, a seemingly never-ending trek from foster home to group home to detention and residential-treatment facilities. Since 1998, Jose has lived in more than twenty places.