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, August 13, 2007

Justice At Stake

A new report shows a dramatic increase in special interest money being spent on judicial elections.

The report, compiled by the nonpartisan group Justice at Stake, shows that business interests spend twice as much money on state high-court elections as all other groups combined, including lawyers.

At the same time, a poll of business leaders shows many feel uneasy about the trend.

Documenting the increasing influence of money in judicial elections, the report shows fundraising by state supreme court candidates rose in 2006, with the median being close to $250,000 per candidate. The high-water mark came in Alabama, where the total price tag for the race for chief justice was $8.2 million.

TV ads ran in 10 or the 11 states where state supreme court judges were up for election, compared to just four states out of 18 six years earlier. Average television spending hit a new record at $1.6 million per state. And business interests outspent everyone else combined — by a 2-to-1 margin.

"What we are seeing now is the beginning of a very serious arms race," said Charles Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, a business group that is part of Justice at Stake.

Kolb contends that the arms race could end up with the mutually assured destruction of our judicial system.

His group sponsored a Zogby poll of business leaders that shows concern running so high that 70 percent of those polled favored alternatives to judicial elections.

The big players from the business community in judicial elections, however, are the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. They began focusing on state judicial elections because they thought they were being outgunned by the plaintiffs' bar — lawyers seeking big damage awards for clients who claimed injury.

It used to be that they were, but not any more. Business groups contributed twice as much to supreme court candidates as lawyers and unions combined in 2006. And 85 percent of non-candidate TV advertising was sponsored by business groups.

THE SITUATIONIST


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