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.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Real Barriers To Re-Entry

People who have been incarcerated and others with criminal and arrest records often lack access to one of the prerequisites for successful reentry into their communities--employment options. Employment opportunities increase the likelihood that former prisoners and people with records will be able to contribute to the wellbeing of their family members and reduce the possibility of poverty for their children. And research clearly shows that former prisoners who are employed are less likely to end up back in jail. Employment also, then, benefits public safety.

Ask The Expert

Jeff Rakover interviews Maurice Emsellem, the National Employment Law Project's Policy Director. Emsellem discusses the challenges that individuals with criminal or arrest records face in gaining employment and argues that these challenges actually jeopardize public safety by contributing to recidivism. He also details advocacy organizations' efforts to make state and local laws more fair and the resources available to leaders who wish to address this problem.
Best Practices

Across the country, fair-minded state and local leaders are passing legislation to make hiring practices more equitable. The city of Boston, New York State, and California offer examples of rules and laws that other states could follow.

Issue Briefing
Americans with criminal and arrest records continue to be punished long after serving their time. The Center for American Progress's recently released report, "From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half," shows that recently released prisoners often face employment and housing barriers and are cut off from crucial government benefits.

These barriers in turn lead to poverty or continued poverty not only for prisoners, but for their families as well. Each year 600,000 mostly poor prisoners with severely limited options return to communities, and it is not surprising that two-thirds will be re-arrested within three years and about half will return to prison.

The barriers that former prisoners and people with records face are detrimental both in principle and in practice. An increasingly punitive, rather than rehabilitative, focus in our nation's criminal justice system has done little to reduce crime, and incarceration rates are at a historic high. We spend 60 billion dollars a year on corrections, while doing little to halt the high recidivism rates. Meanwhile, making a single mistake can result in a lifetime of consequences that hinder even the most determined attempts at self-betterment.

Read the rest of the study here Real Cost of Prisons


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