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.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Senator Bacon to Run Record Sealing Bill Again

We won't give up on this issue and neither will Senator Bacon!

A Fort Collins senator said he expects a compromise with the governor next year on a bill that would allow some criminals to seal their records.

Gov. Bill Ritter vetoed a similar bill Friday. The bill's sponsor, Democratic Sen. Bob Bacon, said he thinks the sides can work out the concerns next session.

"Some of his staffers that talked to me said he would be willing to work with me next year to put a bill through that would satisfy his concerns," Bacon said.

"Next time through, I think we will be able to put something through that will be more acceptable to the governor. As a former prosecutor, I can understand why he would want to have a say in this."

The veto was one of Ritter's eight vetoes during his freshman legislative session, in which he signed 467 new laws.

The intent of Bacon's bill, HB 1107, was to help good-standing people with criminal records who struggle to find employment, Bacon said while the bill was in debated in the Senate.

But Ritter, a former prosecutor, disagreed, saying that if signed it, the law would have had negative effects for Coloradans.

"I understand that the justification for this proposed change is that many times individuals with prior convictions are hampered in their efforts to obtain gainful employment or are restricted in the activities in which they can take part long after they have paid their 'debt to society,'" Ritter said in his veto letter. "However, the effect of implementing (it) would be that, in many instances, members of the public would be unable to determine an individual's prior criminal convictions under circumstances where a decision might well turn on just that issue."

Ritter went on to say, "Prospective employers, elderly citizens making home health care decisions, and parents choosing their child care provider, are just a few examples of categories of people who would not be sufficiently protected under (the law)."

Until 1988, all Colorado convictions could be sealed but state legislation ordered that some records should remain open to public records searches.

Not everyone agreed the bill is good policy, including Sen. Steve Johnson, R-Larimer County.

The bill was originally opposed by many newspaper editorial boards and the Colorado Press Association until the Senate approved amendments adding requirements that public notice be given when a petition to seal a criminal record was filed, as well as grant any member of the public the ability to unseal the records if it's deemed in the public's interest.

The Coloradoan


Anonymous said...

For immediate release

Man sentenced to Colorado State Prison by Parole Board for 24 days for snapping a dish towel, which could be extended to 30 months

The Colorado Parole Board, in a bureaucratic snafu, is keeping Daniel K Clark, age 24, in Colorado Territorial Prison for an extra 24 days. He pled not guilty, on the specific advice of the only source he had, which was the prison staff, to a charge of “not obeying a lawful order” when he snapped a dish towel in the kitchen of the prison, in a proceeding in which he was not allowed to question the level of his charges. He also was not allowed legal representation nor a jury of his peers, constitutionally guaranteed.

The prison staff had told him that it was not allowed to snap a dish towel. Apparently 10 years ago, at the Limon facility, which is a much higher level security prison with inmates being killed nearly every month, a security order was issued that no dish towels could be snapped, when a correctional officer was killed in a kitchen incident.

In this instance, he was charged with a level 3 charge, which could end up, after a hearing that is now scheduled for July 3, to be a 30 month extension to his 4 ½ year sentence for substance abuse. The original hearing was in mid May, and the parole board was advised that he was fired from his job in the kitchen and would be on internal probation until his scheduled release on June 11. He was scheduled to be paroled to a drug rehabilitation clinic in Alamosa. Meanwhile the parole board held it’s monthly hearings at the facility on June 3, without any hearing on the matter. The prison case manager, Dickman, had advised the parole board that Clark had earned his GED and was attending college courses in US History and Economics, along with an elective class. He has some attention deficit disorders, which led to the snapping incident. None of these factors was taken into account in an internal memo to the case manager that informed him that he was to be kept at the facility until they could have their next parole board hearing on July 3.

This again points out that although we hear from Aristedes Zavaras, the executive director that he wants to reduce the number of prisoners, especially those convicted of drugs possession, but what is really happening is just the opposite. According to Fremont County officials, despite not having funds for a new prison and massive state-wide opposition, a new 31st prison, the 30th in the last 60 years, is breaking ground in the east Canon City prison complex, bringing the number of prisons in the area to 12 state prisons. The total state prison population is nearly 23,000, per capita more prisoners than any country in the world, including the dictatorships in Lybia and China, Half of the prisoners are a direct or indirect result, according to Zavaras, of drug abuse. We hear from the new governor Ritter, and his wife, that they want to stop the parole board revolving door, having committed more funds to rehabilitation, but the Parole Board continues to hold drug offenders as long as possible. The Parole Board chairman did not return our calls for comment.

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