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.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Ft. Collins Closer To Early Release Program

It's amazing how programs can be developed when people are put into a crunch. The new jail bond issue was defeated in Larimer County last year and since then the city officials have really stepped up to the plate as far as defining what alternatives there are out there. Working to really reduce recidivism will keep the jail population down more than anything else. Now, if we could just get some treatment beds in Larimer County we will go a lot further.

After a meeting Monday, judges and jail administrators in Larimer County are one step closer to reaching a compromise regarding the early release program at the Larimer County Detention Center.

Sheriff Jim Alderden and Maj. Gary Darling, who heads the jail, met with Chief District Court Judge James Hiatt and Chief County Court Judge C. Edward Stirman to discuss the program, which some judges have been reluctant to utilize.

During the meeting, the four discussed transitioning offenders from the jail to alternative sentencing programs - such as work release or electronic home monitoring - rather than releasing them outright when they became eligible.

"I think all the judges are on board with this," Hiatt said. "What we'd like to see is that (early release) didn't exist at all, but I believe this is the best solution."

Facing jail overcrowding, Alderden launched the program in 2004, releasing certain inmates after they'd served 75 percent of their sentences. Under the program, the inmates could not be violent or sexual offenders or serving mandatory jail sentences and the sentencing judge had the final say whether the inmate would be released.

Both Alderden and Darling said they feel the compromise is a good one and it could have some added benefits. The inmates would be serving more of their sentence, but they'd also be under supervision as they transitioned out of jail, Alderden said.

"If we have work release and can transition all those inmates, I think that would be better than just kicking them out the door."

Transitioning out of jail is the one place where the system has really "dropped the ball," Darling said.

"We're not doing anything for them," he said

Coloradoan