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, October 19, 2007

Oklahoma Sheriff Running Sex Slave Ring?

OKLAHOMA CITY — A lawsuit accuses Custer County, Okla. Sheriff Mike Burgess of operating a sex-slave ring and threatening to send female jail inmates to prison unless they complied with his sexual demands.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday against Burgess on behalf of 12 women who either were jail prisoners or are participants in the county's drug court program.

Burgess had sex with one such woman more than 30 times after telling her that "he got her into the Drug Court program and if she did not provide the required sexual favors, he would get her out," the lawsuit alleges.

As sheriff and as a member of the drug court, Burgess had the power to carry out that alleged threat, the lawsuit claims.

One woman, Joy Mason, was required at least twice to drive to an Oklahoma City hotel where the sheriff was staying, even though she was required by the drug court not to leave Custer County, the lawsuit states. One such rendezvous occurred in December, the night before Mason appeared before the Legislature as a showcased member of the drug court program, according to the lawsuit.

The allegations have led to a criminal investigation, records obtained Wednesday indicate.

In a July 13 letter to Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Custer County District Attorney Dennis Smith asked to be recused from a potential prosecution of Burgess because of a "strong working relationship" between them.

"An OSBI investigation has been ongoing for approximately two months, and I believe there will be decisions to be made on whether a criminal case should be, or is, filed in that matter," Smith wrote.

Burgess couldn't be reached either at his home or the sheriff's office. A dispatcher said he is out on medical leave.

Tulsa attorney Thomas Seymour, who filed the lawsuit, said of the combined allegations: "It is one of the most disgusting things I have seen in my 40 years of practice."

Rocky Mountain news

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