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, October 09, 2007

DA Chambers Defends Death Penalty Filings

Is it all really politics?

District Attorney Carol Chambers leads the state in seeking death for suspected murderers, with six of Colorado's seven pending death penalty cases coming from her 18th Judicial District.

Chambers filed five of those cases herself, equaling in three years the number of times her predecessor sought the death penalty during his eight-year tenure.

Elected in 2004 as chief prosecutor for the conservative Douglas, Arapahoe, Elbert and Lincoln counties, Chambers has a reputation for taking a hard line against criminals, from accused murderers to petty offenders.

She has said she believes voters in her judicial district support the death penalty and her decisions to seek it.

In recent years, she has faced misconduct allegations - including a highly publicized public censure - and has tussled with everyone from police to county commissioners and judges.

Now some of Chambers' critics are questioning whether her decisions on the death penalty may be politically motivated - an attempt to curry favor with voters or to shift attention away from her troubles.

They also worry that in Colorado, justice isn't equal.

"It's troubling for our office, and I would think it would be troubling for the people of this state," said Douglas Wilson, the state public defender.

Added Michael Radelet, a nationally known University of Colorado death penalty researcher who believes capital punishment should be abolished, "People are supposed to be punished for the crime, not for the place (where the crime was committed).

"I can't say what's motivating Carol Chambers, but I do know she's had some political problems. This may be a way to take some of the heat off."

Chambers declined to be interviewed for this article but released a prepared statement denying she had ulterior motives.

"A decision to seek the death penalty is among the most significant responsibilities any public official can face . . . It is never a diversion and, in fact, will always subject me and this office to greater scrutiny and criticism, not less," she wrote.

"Some members of the criminal defense bar are vehemently opposed to the death penalty. They will oppose it under any circumstances even though Colorado law provides for the death penalty when warranted."

The Rocky Mountain News