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, January 08, 2008

Her Brother's Keeper

Long time CCJRC member and friend Kathie Reinhardt is featured in today's Rocky....Great work Kathie!!

Kathie Reinhardt is paying back all the people who were mean to her by being nice to others that society wants to shun.

She's a volunteer with Colorado CURE - Citizens United to Reform Errants, a nonprofit that advocates for changes in the justice system.

Reinhardt takes it to another level.

She helps find jobs and housing for people recently released from custody. She gives them rides to where they need to go. Sometimes, she's just someone for them to talk to.

"I'll fight for these guys," she said. That's tough talk from someone who didn't fight back most of her life.

"I was kind of a dork in high school. I got picked on a lot," she said. "I know what that feels like when no one really cares about you. I care about everybody. If I can give somebody a hand up, I'm going to do that."

Dianne Tramutola-Lawson, founder of the Colorado branch of CURE, said Reinhardt is "everybody's mom."

"CURE isn't supposed to be a service organization," Tramutola-Lawson said. "That's a lot of what she's done on her own."

Reinhardt, 60, is a full-time student at Metropolitan State College of Denver. She's studying criminal justice.

She moved from her native Ohio to Englewood 31 years ago to be closer to family.

She gets around in a 1997 Ford Taurus she paid $500 for.

"It's the best car I've had in a long time," she said. "The last car had a trunk held down with bungee cords."

She has been involved in CURE 14 years. She started going to meetings to get information as her former husband had just been sent to prison.

Some ask her if she's afraid to squire around ex-convicts.

"I'm not afraid of anybody," she said. "It took me two bad marriages and probably getting involved in prison stuff to get over it."

She said she depends a lot on her Christian faith.

"I am my brother's keeper," she said. "The guys I work with usually do OK. They just need somebody to walk with them. They just want somebody to talk to. It's something I can do."

She has a success story that also keeps her going, or coming back after a hard day.

She heard from a group that gives backpacks to new releases - mostly filled with shaving cream, razors, soap, a pair of socks. Someone in the group asked Reinhardt to deliver a backpack to a newly released guy.

He didn't want to talk religion or much of anything for that matter. Soon enough, though, he opened up. And then he started talking to other guys, who formed little support groups at a shelter.

"All these guys are helping each other. Now they're helping other guys," Reinhardt said. "And all because I gave a guy a backpack."

She puts in about 25 hours a week. Over the years, she has helped about 500 people.

"It's free labor," she said. "I get paid in blessings."

The Denver Post