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.


Monday, July 23, 2007

USA Today - Release Doesn't Mean the Sentence Ends

Thanks to Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy for pointing us this way. We currently have 2.25 million people in prison and 95% of them will be released.

Ex-cons' sentences don't always end with release

In New Jersey, some ex-convicts can't get a driver's license. In Alabama, a misdemeanor drug conviction means a ban on adopting a child. In 12 states, former felons are ineligible for food stamps.

As record numbers of people leave prison, thousands of ex-criminals are pouring into communities. They've served their time, but their conviction bars them from many jobs, state and federal aid and some types of housing.

Policymakers are beginning to consider whether the hodgepodge of state laws and regulations are protecting the public or creating an underclass of ex-cons who, after serving their sentence, cannot return to society. Congress will consider the issue later this year. And a nationwide legal conference will vote on a model state law this month.

"What we're seeing around the country is prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges all coming to an understanding that just because someone has committed a crime and had to pay a price for it, doesn't mean they should be relegated forever to second-class citizenship," says Stephen Saltzburg, a law professor at George Washington University and chairman-elect of the American Bar Association's criminal justice section.

The number of people released from prisons and jails has increased 16% since 2000, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in June.

"We've created a class of people who essentially don't fit in," says Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice think tank in Washington.

'Trying to do the right thing'

Stosh Klos, 23, admits he ran with the wrong crowd in his teens and in college. He's been arrested once for marijuana possession, another time for sharing his pain pills with friends after he got his wisdom teeth pulled. When he was 19, he was convicted of driving while intoxicated.

"I wasn't going after my goals or caring about how it would hurt me going down the road," Klos says. "I had no idea of the severity of it."

Klos graduated from the University of South Florida last year with a degree in business and marketing, but he's had a tough time finding a job in his field and obtaining the professional licenses he would need to be a stockbroker, financial manager or real estate agent. Now, he's working two construction jobs and refurbishing a house as an investment property.

Read The Entire Story

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