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.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Nation - Locked Up In New Orleans

The Nation: Locked Up in New Orleans

It's not so far from the way things were more than a century ago. Antebellum city records refer to what is now the Orleans Parish Prison as the Workhouse. In addition to those arrested for crime, the jail was a repository for slaves whose masters chose to lease them to the Workhouse. The same archives also reveal that African-Americans were committed to the Workhouse for "claiming to be free": In the space where the master's name was usually recorded, these inmates were referred to as "so-called free." After the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, African-Americans arrested in New Orleans for black-code crimes like vagrancy and unemployment were taken to the parish Workhouse. During Reconstruction, the incarcerated former slaves provided a critical pool of forced labor for railroad companies, agriculture and industry. In its first regular session post-Katrina, the state legislature amended a law regulating parish jail labor in order to grant immunity to prison authorities "for injuries or damages caused or suffered by prisoners participating in any work program during incarceration at parish jail facilities." When I asked a legislative staffer about the origins of the post-Katrina amendment, she said, "I believe it was because there was a labor shortage."

The Nation