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 19, 2007

TIME - Mandatory Drug Laws

The work to repeal mandatory sentencing has stalled. The problem with legislated changes to this system is the years it takes to actually occur and the lives that are destroyed while that time passes. H/T to Doug Berman over at Sentencing Law and Policy

Time Magazine -The most painful thing to Cheri O'Donaghue about her son's incarceration on drug charges is not the imprisonment itself, but that he is serving the sentence that should go to a narcotics kingpin when all he committed, she says, was the crime of a small-time pusher. Her son Ashley was found guilty of delivering cocaine to two college students in upstate New York in 2003. He was sentenced to seven to 21 years in prison, a penalty mandated by New York's controversial Rockefeller Drug Laws. Ashley is among about 14,000 people sent to New York prisons under the Rockefeller laws, in force since 1973, which impose harsh mandatory minimum terms on even first time offenders — meaning they could get the same sentence as a person convicted of second degree murder.

O'Donaghue once had hope for a positive change in her son's situation. That was because there was a movement to change the Rockefeller laws. The momentum behind that reform, however, has now stagnated as prosecutors and legislators fear that changes in the law are being used as loopholes to free drug lords. With no light at the end of the tunnel, she and other activists fighting for a repeal feel the laws may never change and many of the state's imprisoned — her son included — continue to languish in jail. "The movement is definitely stalled, and we're trying to gain some momentum again, but it's very hard," said O'Donaghue. "I never would have dreamed in the beginning of this that it would have taken this long to get Ashley out."


Time Magazine

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