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.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Weld County: New Hope For Addicts

Ken Buck’s goal for starting an alternative program for drug addicts was a simple one: He wanted to stop stuffing the already overcrowded Weld County Jail with accused lawbreakers who really didn’t need to be there.

He didn’t want to go soft on them. But he knew there were people who probably wouldn’t be criminals if it wasn’t for their gnawing desire for their drug of choice. Those people needed treatment, not a bed in a jail that is desperately in want of empty beds for more dangerous criminals.

So Buck started working on something he called the In-Custody Alternative Placement Program. The program combined the efforts of police departments, Buck’s office and treatment centers.

Six months later, Buck had who he thought was an ideal first candidate: Jennifer Henessee.

Henessee worked, he thought, because she was pregnant and wanted to be a mother. She was not a violent criminal. In fact, she refused to pack a gun in her robbery of Western Sizzlin’. And they had a victim, Bob Boswell, who initially called to drop the charges, so if it didn’t work out, he wouldn’t necessarily be upset.

“I just asked Buck if he could find out if this person, if given this chance, would likely run with it and maybe do something positive,” Boswell said, “and that I wasn’t just being some liberal schmuck.”

Despite all that, there was no guarantee the program would work.

“We were taking a huge risk,” Buck said. “We had to learn to trust everyone a little bit, and everyone participating gave up a little bit as well.”

Part of the risk was, of course, that treatment centers aren’t jails. If those in the program wanted to escape, chances are they could. The other part was that any drug program is unpredictable and filled with failure. Addiction is incredibly hard to kick.

Greeley Tribune