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, August 10, 2007

CCJRC August Newsletter

Recently, CCJRC revamped its volunteer program so that our members can have the opportunity to be more involved with the work that we are doing. The response that we got for the initial meeting request was incredible and we were able to get enough new volunteers in the door that we were able to launch three separate sub-committees and start getting people involved immediately in the areas that they wanted to work in. We were able to form a Speakers Bureau, Fundraising committee, and a Legislative and Research committee. It's been very exciting for the staff and Board to see the energy and commitment that is evolving from our volunteers.

It is also wonderful to have the opportunity to get to know our members better. We would like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank everyone that took time out of their busy lives and help with the events so far this summer. We were able to sign-up over 300 new members in just two months and we raised nearly $800 at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Pam.

To help our volunteers on the Speakers Bureau increase their skill and knowledge, CCJRC offered a training on public speaking. CCJRC is very grateful to Nick Taylor from the local Toastmasters group for conducting the trainings on public speaking. We had a great turnout and the feedback that we received was that the class was very informative and fun.

CCJRC is also offering a training on an overview of the criminal justice system and a historical understanding of the politics and attitudes that drove Colorado’s unprecedented growth in the prison population. This is a 2-part training will be held at 1212 Mariposa St., on August 28th and September 4th from 6-8pm.
Trainers include:

Richard Jackson, PhD is the senior tenured professor in criminology at Metro State University with over twenty years of teaching experience and member of the CCJRC Board of Directors.

John Riley, recently retired after being employed for over 30 years in the juvenile correctional systems in Ohio and Colorado. He is a founding member of the Committee on Minority Youth Equality, former vice-president of the Colorado Chapter of Blacks in Criminal Justice and is currently a member of the CCJRC Board of Directors.

Christie Donner, CCJRC Executive Director and founder with over 13 years experience in criminal justice policy research, grassroots lobbying and community organizing.If you would like to attend the criminal justice training send me an email by August 17th and I will let you know if we still have room. We hope to be able to offers these trainings and more in the future.

What's Going On With The State Boards?

Governor Ritter recently appointed two new members to the Colorado Parole Board. Amos Martinez replaced John Rosen and Rebecca Oakes replaced Verne Saint-Vincent. Mr. Martinez was a police officer in Grand Junction and worked in several social work capacities for the public schools and the youth detention. He received a PhD in Public Affairs and has three Masters degrees in Public Administration, Criminal Justice and Social Work. He currently operates a private clinical social work and psychotherapy practice. Rebecca Oakes of Denver currently works as the Victim Services Coordinator in the Division of Youth Corrections. Ms. Oakes’ mother was killed by Nathan Dunlop.

These are three year appointment to the Parole Board and require Senate confirmation. Governor Ritter also appointed Celeste C de Baca to fill a vacancy on the Parole Board due to the resignation of Matthew Rhodes. Ms. de Baca will finish out Mr. Rhodes term that will expire on July 1, 2008. Current Parole Board member Curtis Devin’s term is also expiring this year although there has been no decision made by the Governor whether to replace or reappoint him.
The 2007 legislature passed HB 1358 which created the Colorado Criminal and Juvenile Justice Commission. The commission has yet to be completely put together except for the ex-officio seats and we know that some legislative seats have been filled. Rep.Terrance Carroll (D) and Rep. Ellen Roberts (R) will both be sitting on the Commission. According to the Governor's office, the Commission members won't be appointed and announced for several more weeks. I don't know if that means that they are still accepting applications, but you can go to the Governor's website and click on "Boards and Commissions" to get an application.

Earlier this month the Colorado Bar Association sponsored a CLE at the University of Denver Law School that included such distinguished guests as criminal defense attorney Phil Cherner, Representative Terrance Carroll (D), District Attorney Don Quick, and of course, our own Christie Donner. Jeanne Smith, the new head of the Division of Criminal Justice. The keynote was Representative Roger Goodman from Washington. He is an attorney who was the executive director of their state sentencing commission. He shared some of their accomplishments in redesigning their sentencing model, particularly for drug offenses and providing significantly more funding for substance abuse and mental health treatment.
It was a good, lively discussion with tremendous audience participation. There also seemed to be consensus around the fact that the money we are pouring into corrections on the state level simply isn't working and something needs to change. Don Quick described our situation in Colorado as being a broken pipe and we were trying to solve it by buying bigger buckets. Phil Cherner, who served on the last criminal justice commission in the early 90's, explained that we are here because prosecutors have gone to the Capitol to oppose every effort to lower any sentence for everything. "In fact", he said, "what we are doing is asking the arsonists to put out their fire."
It will be interesting to see if both sides can come together in this effort and really create change. It is going to take a willingness to listen from both sides and the ability to work together quickly to make some headway on these issues. We are looking forward with hope and with high expectations from the process. Our only fear is that this will be the place where all good ideas get bogged down and we are stymied from any legislative process while elected officials wait to hear from the Commission.

SAFER Keeps The Fight Alive in Denver

The organization behind the efforts to legalize marijuana in Denver and Colorado has a new initiative moving forward in 2007. Citizens for a Safer Denver has collected enough signatures to qualify a measure for the November ballot that would make adult marijuana possession the city's "lowest law enforcement priority." Despite Denver's vote in 2005 to make marijuana legal for those 21 and older, city officials have needlessly continued arresting adults and sending them through the criminal justice system. In fact, there were more arrests for simple possession in the city in 2006 than ever before. The proposed measure is modeled after one passed in Seattle in 2003, which effectively reduced the number of marijuana possession arrests occurring in the city. There is no reason Denver cannot do the same.

For more information or to find out how you can get involved, please visit


The Community Reentry Project

The Community Reentry is open for business. For those of you who don't know already, CRP is located at 3030 Downing St. The Grand Opening was earlier this month. Over 500 people from the Community attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony that featured Mayor Hickenlooper, the head of the Department of Public Safety, Al LaCabe and Councilman Doug Linkhart. We are proud to have been a part of putting the Reentry project together. The project was an initiative of the Denver Mayor's Crime Prevention and Control Commission which seeks, in part, to reduce recidivism and provide alternative avenues for those intending to successfully transition back into the community after incarceration for misdemeanor and municipal violations.

Transitional services will be provided to individuals and their families to help build healthy relationships and stronger communities. Case management services and programs in the jail and in the community include: housing, food, clothing, job readiness training, job placement, life skills training including financial management and budgeting, anger management classes, and family reunification (parenting, counseling). There will also be educational and vocational enhancement opportunities to include GED preparation, Adult Basic Education, literacy, and ESL, computer skills training, college enrollment preparation, with specific vocational training and certifications program eventually offered as well.

Qualifying criteria to receive services: Misdemeanor or ordinace offense, Denver residents or transient/homeless, felony charges are fine as long as they aren't currently on parole. Parolees will just be referred to the John Inman Work and Family Center. If you would like to refer someone please call Jenifer at 303-577-2111. All referred clients must schedule an intake interview with a case manager.

Center For Spirituality at Work

The Center for Spirituality at Work acts as a bridge uniting diverse people for spiritual transformation and social justice.

Advisory Board for Program Benefiting Incarcerated Women

The Making Choices program of the Center For Spirituality at Work is expanding its Advisory Board to include interested members of the community. Making Choices teaches life-planning and decision-making skills to incarcerated women through an effective mentoring process. The board's purpose is to ensure diversity, inclusiveness, and best practices in all aspects of the Making Choices program. Our current emphasis is on increasing the diversity of our volunteer mentor pool to reflect the diversity of the population we mentor. For more information call the Center at 303-383-1610.

Women mentors need to work with incarcerated women: The Making Choices program is also seeking professional women willing to receive training to serve as volunteer mentors. The program teaches life-planning and decision-making skills to incarcerated women and women who have been recently released. Better decision-making helps women stay out of prison once they are released, and helps their children to from getting caught in the intergenerational cycle of crime. Call 303-383-1610 or visit CFSAW online at www.cfsaw.org. The application deadline is Nov. 5, 2007.

Colorado CURE - Monthly Meeting

Wednesday, August 22

7:00 p.m.

ACLU Building

400 Corona St.

Denver CO. 80209

CURE Citizens and DOC Meeting

Wednesday, Sept. 5th

1:00 to 3:30

Denver Women's Correctional Facility

Smith Road and Havana

Just South of the Denver County Jail

CURE/Sex Offenders Issues Group

Tuesday, August, 28th

7:00 p.m.

St. Paul Lutheran Church

1600 Grant St.

Denver, CO 80202

This is a group for families and friend of sex offenders (and those required by law to participate

in sex offender treatment) to help navigate through the current system and laws

Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

RAFFLE!! Win a WIND Ebike
Ticket price: 1 ticket for $2 or 3 for $5
3970 Broadway Suite 105, Boulder CO
call: (303) 444-6981 www.rmpjc.org

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