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, September 21, 2007

Judge Denies Request To Free Jena Teen

Maybe if his last name was "Nacchio" he'd be released.

JENA, La.—A judge on Friday denied a request to release a teenager whose arrest in the beating of a white classmate sparked this week's civil rights protest in Louisiana. Mychal Bell's request to be freed while an appeal is being reviewed was rejected at a juvenile court hearing, effectively denying him any chance at immediate bail, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because juvenile court proceedings are closed.

Earlier, Bell's mother emerged from the hearing in tears, refusing to comment.

Bell, 17, was convicted of aggravated second-degree battery, which could have led to 15 years in prison. But his conviction was thrown out by a state appeals court that said he could not be tried on the charge as an adult because he was 16 at the time of the beating.

"This is why we did not cancel the march," said the Rev. Al Sharpton, an organizer of Thursday's rally along with the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the NAACP. "When they overturned Mychal's conviction, everyone said we won."

Jackson said in an interview Friday that federal intervention is needed to protect Bell's rights. Sharpton said he has scheduled meetings in Washington with congressional leaders to discuss the Jena Six case.

At a separate closed hearing Friday, a judge refused a request from defense attorneys to remove Judge J.P. Mauffray Jr. from Bell's case, said John Jenkins, father of one of Bell's co-defendants.

Defense lawyers have complained that Mauffray set a high bail for Bell—$90,000—prior to his conviction in the Barker beating. Mauffray had cited Bell's criminal record, which included juvenile arrests for battery and damage to property, in setting the bail.

On Thursday, the case drew thousands of protesters to this tiny central Louisiana town to rally against what they see as a double standard of justice for blacks and whites. The march was one of the biggest civil rights demonstrations in years.


The Denver Post

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