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.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oklahoma Transfer of Prisoners Hits Families Hard


Monday, October 15, 2007

It has been months since Roger Peck has seen his son.

A year ago, Peck and his wife, Millicent, twice a month were driving more than 400 miles from Grand Junction to see their son, 47-year-old Stephen Dallas Peck, at the Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs.

But when Peck and 479 other inmates were relocated in December and January to the privately owned North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Okla., those visits ended.

“It’s almost impossible for us to get to Oklahoma, and I’m sure we’re more capable than a lot of people that have loved ones in prison,” Roger Peck said.

The retired couple said their contact with their son, who was sentenced in early 2004 to 18 years in prison for felony theft and methamphetamine possession, has become relegated to brief collect calls twice a month.

The Colorado Department of Correction’s decision to ship its healthiest and best behaved inmates more than 300 miles southeast of Colorado’s closest prison in Trinidad, the Pecks said, is “completely opposite” the state’s goal of promoting prisoner wellness and reducing recidivism.

“They skimmed the cream to start with. They took inmates who were in relatively good health and have no violent history and were not in there for violent crime,” Roger Peck said. “So they took the cream of the crop, so to speak, and sent them to this facility whose sole purpose in life is making money.”

Without their support, the Pecks said, they fear how well their son will cope with his methamphetamine addiction, which also landed him in prison in 1997.

Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, said in an attempt to address some of the Peck family’s concerns, he and Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras are going to visit the North Fork Correctional Facility at the end of this month.

King said after he met the Peck family earlier this year, he began to wonder if Colorado was abandoning its oversight responsibilities by shipping felons out of state.

“I had some real concerns about us giving up our ability, in some ways, to have oversight of these people that are Colorado citizens,” King said. “Granted they’re felons, but they’re our felons, and we have a responsibility to make sure they’re doing their time in a safe environment.”

King said “outsourcing our felons” removes them from the support network of friends and family they need to transition from their criminal lifestyles and addictions back to living normal lives.

Zavaras said from a purely financial standpoint, private prisons — the six in Colorado and the North Fork Correctional Facility — are a cost-effective way to deal with Colorado’s exploding corrections population.

According to Department of Corrections statistics, Colorado’s inmate population has nearly doubled over the past decade, from 13,242 inmates in 2006 to 22,424 inmates this year. Nearly 5,000 of Colorado’s inmates reside in private prisons.

Zavaras said sending prisoners outside Colorado is neither ideal nor fair to the inmates, but it is necessary.

“Managing prisoners out of state, quite frankly, is very, very difficult for us,” Zavaras said. “If we would have had in-state beds, we wouldn’t be out of state. We’re only there as a last resort.”

He said there are plans to expand two existing private, in-state prisons. As soon as those expansions are completed, he said, “We will bring them back.”

Zavaras said he plans to scrutinize the Sayre, Okla., prison during his and King’s Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 visits. He said during that time he will not only speak with Colorado inmates but look into the concerns of inmates’ families.

Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, said that ideally Colorado would pull out of private prisons, whose missions are directly contrary to reducing recidivism.

McFadyen, who has 12 state and federal prisons in her southern Colorado House district, said private facilities have no reason to attempt to reintegrate felons back into society. She said private facilities see felons as possible repeat customers, so they have no incentive to decrease recidivism.

Removing inmates from Colorado, she said, is an even better way for private prisons to maintain demand for their beds.

“Sending an inmate out of state is almost guaranteeing they’ll come back in the system because of the lack of support,” McFadyen said. “I don’t know how an inmate succeeds when they have no support from home.”

The Pecks said they hope King and Zavaras’ trip to the North Fork Correctional Facility will give them and their peers a clearer picture of the harm distant relocations can have on prisoners.

“We recognize it’s not a simple problem,” Roger Peck said. “And farming them out is a solution, but in my mind it’s a very poor solution and certainly should not a long-term solution.”

In the meantime, he said he hopes policymakers realize their money-saving maneuvers affect Coloradans like his son.


Grand Junction Sentinel

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Corporate corrections may be cheaper but it is not safer. Employee turnover is extreme. Training is the opposite. White flour and sugar are a staple, and it is close to 0 on that scale for fruits, vegetables, whole grains...A situation ripe for digestive tract, heart, diabetes...

charlie said...

its only going to get worse and soon everyone will be coming back over and over ,expect more people to be getting shipped out to oklahoma and else where.....

A Concerned & Shattered Mom said...

No words can describe how very angry I am at this moment. I am beyond sick of the coldness of CDOC and their apparent acceptance of treating these guys like objects. That is all it is. Money. I will NOT accept any of this! It is coming to a point of requiring legal action. The 8th amendment comes to mind. I want to know what the CDOC's true agenda is!!!

Anonymous said...

currently a lawsuit is underway in the District Court in Beckham County Oklahoma concerning these inmates. The purported contract between colorado and CCA has been proven to have forged signatures on it. This has been accomplished thru a Forensic Handwriting Analyst. to see what actions the court and the plaintiffs have taken go to Oklahoma district Cort records website. on the pull down box select Beckham County then CV for the type of case the year is 07 case # 00022 hit submit. this will bring up two cases select the second one. it will bring up a court docket that will show how the local court is dragging its feet on this case. this case affects @ 400 inmates from colorado that are being held illegally by CCA.

Anonymous said...

currently a lawsuit is underway in the District Court in Beckham County Oklahoma concerning these inmates. The purported contract between colorado and CCA has been proven to have forged signatures on it. This has been accomplished thru a Forensic Handwriting Analyst. to see what actions the court and the plaintiffs have taken go to Oklahoma district Cort records website. on the pull down box select Beckham County then CV for the type of case the year is 07 case # 00022 hit submit. this will bring up two cases select the second one. it will bring up a court docket that will show how the local court is dragging its feet on this case. this case affects @ 400 inmates from colorado that are being held illegally by CCA.

Anonymous said...

Many inmates, my son included, have stated that even though the food is very bad and the guards among the dumbest in the world, they still prefer to stay at North Fork because at least they feel safer there. The is no gang activity at North Fork like there is in the Colorado prisons and nearly all of the inmates are well behaved. THATS why they were shipped to NF in the first place.

It's very sad that those inmates would rather stay away from their families than to be subjected to possible beatings or even be murdered. This doesn't say too much for the CDOC does it?

Monica said...

These men have commited crimes they are criminals and you want us to feel sorry that they are not close to their families. What about the families that they have affected some of them for the rest of their lives. Oh poor murderers rapists and other criminals. I was absolutley outraged when I read this article. One of the inmates that was sent to Oklahoma was a man by the name of Luis Berumen and he is guilty of murdering my sister in cold blood a month and a day after her 26th birthday. I only wish that they would have sent him so far away that his family would never see him again because thats the price her family pays every single day. Think about that the next time you try and make people feel sorry for the inmates that are far from their families.

Monica said...

These men have commited crimes they are criminals and you want us to feel sorry that they are not close to their families. What about the families that they have affected some of them for the rest of their lives. Oh poor murderers rapists and other criminals. I was absolutley outraged when I read this article. One of the inmates that was sent to Oklahoma was a man by the name of Luis Berumen and he is guilty of murdering my sister in cold blood a month and a day after her 26th birthday. I only wish that they would have sent him so far away that his family would never see him again because thats the price her family pays every single day. Think about that the next time you try and make people feel sorry for the inmates that are far from their families.