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, April 30, 2008

Rule Bars Hearing For Juvenile Lifers

When it was established last year, Colorado's Juvenile Clemency Board was held out as a last ray of hope for young prisoners serving time for crimes they committed in their teens.

But 24 young prisoners serving life without parole - and many more serving lesser sentences - are ineligible to petition the board to reduce their sentences.

A misunterstood eligibility rule appears to be the problem.

It recently came to light when Christopher Selectman, 30, who is serving a life sentence for gunning down a man during a drug deal when he was 16, asked for an application and was told he wasn't entitled to one.

That's because he was 18 - an adult - by the time he was sentenced, according to his prison case manager.

In his executive order establishing the juvenile clemency board last fall, Gov. Bill Ritter said it was designed for juvenile offenders who had been tried as adults.

Selectman certainly appears to fit that designation.

But criteria adopted by the board state that to be eligible for clemency, an inmate must have been a "juvenile when he was tried and convicted as an adult."

In other words, officials didn't consider Selectman's age when he committed the crime, but rather his age when he was tried.

In practice, prison case managers are using the final court sentencing order to determine eligibility, a date that may be even later than the conviction date. This is what happened to Selectman.

Since many cases, especially murder charges, can take a year or more to get to trial, a number of young prisoners become ineligible under this definition.


Rocky Mountain News

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

A very interesting story about the word, RULES. Also that prison case managers interperet those rules.
Its like when your sick, go to your case manager to be diagnosed instead of a qualified doctor.djw

StevenSilas said...

Bottom line i think that the date of the offense should be the considering factor and not the date of sentencing.

CHARLIANA said...

Absolutely,the considered date should be the date the crime took place- not whenever the trial finally took place. in some cases its years, and i think there should be a chance for these people who committed crimes as juveniles, to atleast be looked at as potential parolies. i would hope that if it were my son,not that im minimizing the crime at all. Each person has a different story...

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