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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.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Problems Still Plague Texas Youth Commission

09:02 AM CST on Sunday, December 16, 2007
Ten months after its self-destruction – the abrupt payoff for years of beatings, rapes and depravities that made it a national disgrace – the Texas Youth Commission stumbles toward reform. Some believe TYC can never change fundamentally until it shuts its large prisons, most located in small towns, and puts its troubled youth in smaller settings closer to home. "Other than political pork, I don't understand why Texas doesn't close those places down," said Dr. Krisberg of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency in Oakland, Calif. Dr. Krisberg and others frequently cite the Missouri model of smaller, home-like facilities. California recently announced that it would remove as many as 1,000 inmates from its state youth prisons, returning them to county jails and treatment centers.

"If there's any improvement at TYC," he said, "it's very minute, as far as I can see. "It has fresh programs, as ordered by the Legislature, and new management in place. But as Jon Halt sees it, one basic defect remains: "They still treat kids like dirt."

At the conclusion of its most tumultuous year ever, TYC still can't solve some major problems. Insiders lament that the agency operates in chaos. Guards describe prisons that are out of control. Youth advocates say inmates fare only marginally better now than in the agency's era of notorious brutality. But outside experts believe the agency remains chained to an outmoded model – one based on punishment that is dealt from large, remote prisons.

"The question is," he said, "is Texas going to tolerate being the embarrassment of the nation on this?"

TYC came apart in February, when The Dallas Morning News and the Web site of The Texas Observer revealed that administrators at a West Texas youth prison had been accused of sexually abusing inmates. Continued revelations by The News portrayed an agency capable of one outrage after another: youth beatings, lax medical care, shady business dealings, sloppy schooling and a culture of retaliation against whistleblowers.

Dallas Morning News

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