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, March 11, 2008

Second Chance For Mentally Ill Teens

Life was spiraling in the wrong direction for Stephanie Winkler — 18 years old with a month-old son, an arrest for fighting with the baby's father and therapy for depression.

Colorado's first juvenile mental-health court program — designed to keep juveniles with mental-health diagnoses out of the criminal justice system — threw Winkler a life preserver.

"Everybody is really willing to help you get what you need," said Winkler, a full-time student at McClain Community High School. "You get more support, and it's more personal and has less punishment than the regular system."

The 1st Judicial District program, modeled after a similar one in San Jose, Calif., provides resources so juveniles ages 12 to 18 and their families can turn their lives around.

Winkler and 12 other teenagers have successfully completed the program, a collaboration among the Jefferson Center for Mental Health, the District Attorney's Office, the courts, probation, the Juvenile Assessment Center, the school district and other agencies.

"That's a lot of people who usually fight with each other," said Magistrate K.J. Moore, who handles the cases. "Instead, we talk about how we can help these kids and how we can help their families."

Referrals come from wherever contact is made with a kid who might have mental-health issues. A panel screens the candidates, who with their families must agree to a contract with a probation officer.

Contract conditions include counseling, frequent meetings with the probation officer, who drops in at school and home to see how things are going, and monthly reviews with the court.

The program works on incentives for positive behavior, such as small items given as rewards, and sanctions for negative behavior, including a weekend at a juvenile correctional facility.


The Denver Post

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