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.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Prisoner ID Program

DENVER - In Colorado’s quest to reduce recidivism, the key may not be a large, expensive rehabilitation program so much as it is a 2- by 3½- inch piece of identification.

Officials from the Department of Corrections and the Department of Revenue are working to develop a program that would get driver’s licenses or state-issued ID cards into the hands of prisoners as they are leaving their incarceration. Bill Zalman, director of offender services, said he thinks a system for doing so could be in place before the end of the year.

Kathie Reinhardt, who has worked for 14 years with prisoners re-entering society, estimates that about half of those coming out of jail have no form of identification other than their Department of Corrections card, which is accepted by few banks, employers or check-cashing locations.

Without a state ID, they have a hard time getting a job, renting an apartment or even going to food banks.

If they can’t find their own source of income, many turn to crime again or go back to jail for violating terms of their paroles, she said.

Reinhardt argues a lack of ID could be the single biggest cause of recidivism, the pattern of prisoners returning to incarceration that first-year Gov. Bill Ritter has vowed to reduce. Something as simple as ensuring they have a card upon re-entering society could produce a big change, she predicted.

“It would literally mean that these guys could at least hit the streets and start working in day labor,” said Reinhardt, a board member of the nonprofit Colorado CURE, which stands for Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants. “I think it’s the biggest stumbling block they have. . . . I think if that were overcome, it would open a million doors.”
Colorado Springs Gazette

3 comments:

charlie said...

it would help but its no where near the biggest thing affecting a prisoner upon release ,most places wont rent to a person with a felony any way no matter what it was for or how long ago it was,a released prisoner needs real employment that can support ,not temp jobs and there needs to be places that will rent to an ex-convict or parole or a program that can put a released prisoner in a place for at least 2 months while they can at least save enough to get a place if they find one....there just arent many places that will trust an ex-convict ..trust me i know because i am an ex convict and lucily my apartment manager was able to rent to me again as long as i was able to pay back the costs of the eviction that happend when i went back to prison...see when a person goes back on a parole violation they dont get a chance to get out and put there stuff in storage ,they usualy lose everything and in an eviction they are not able to rent anywhere with this on your record add to it being an ex convict and your just out of luck ...my eviction cost me 1600 dollars and just luckily my boss saved my job and a paycheck while i went back on a parole violation for making a phone call ,most ex cons dont have it this lucky ...an i.d. is a good start but there just needs to be alot more then that to stop the revolving door that prison is ....charlie taylor

Marcia said...

Charlie. Thanks for sharing your story. I totally agree. This blatant form of discrimination must end. Simply because a human being spent time in prison, does not make him/her a criminal the rest of his/her life. This type of *acceptable* discrimination does not provide essential help where help is needed most. That is, education, career and shelter. Are all of these holier-than-thou actions on the part of society a reflection of their own insecurities and lack of perfection? I believe it is. The great majority of people reading this have done 'something' in their lives that would have warranted jail or prison time, but managed to escape the penal system by luck. You know who you are. What is desperately needed is forgiving, compassion and a chance for these folks to LIVE. Blessings to those who know true spirituality and work with the EX-prisoners - paving a path for them to lead constructive, fulfilling futures.

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