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.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Schools Say Yes To Drug Testing

PAGOSA SPRINGS — Dillon Sandoval would welcome an easy out — a solid reason to say no to the dope-smoking among students in his high school.

"If a kid has an excuse not to do it, people will stop asking him. Then they'd maybe even stop using," said Sandoval, a 16-year- old sophomore at Pagosa Springs High.

The reason to just say no is coming.

At least three districts in Colorado conduct random drug tests on students in extracurricular activities. Holyoke plans to begin testing next year. And representatives from schools in several other places — Weld County, Durango, Archuleta County, Colorado Springs, Dolores and Towaoc — were all in Pagosa Springs recently to hear federal drug warriors pitch the program.

"We are not waging a war on drugs; we are waging a war of defense — a defense of the basis of humanity, and that is our brain," said Dr. Bertha Madras, the White House deputy drug czar in charge of reducing demand for drugs.

While research has not found that random testing reduces student drug use, testing is catching on. An estimated 4,155 schools across the country test urine, saliva, hair and even blood of students involved in extracurricular competitive activities — covering students in everything from 4-H to football to the debate team.

But the tests are stirring ire among civil libertarians who see them as a violation of individual rights, a threat to a school's sense of community and a dangerous extension of government power.

"I think the war on drugs is becoming a war on people," said Cathryn Hazouri, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. "They are making the school into a watchdog, and that's more disruptive to the educational process than it is protective."


The Denver Post

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