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, July 07, 2008

Behind Bars By Mistake

Women tell how police arrested them on warrants describing other people

Christina FourHorn and Valerie Rodriguez were not guilty of anything more serious than having names similar to two wanted women.

But that was enough to land each in jail.

Both women were put behind bars by Denver police based on arrest warrants meant for someone else. Their legal teams at the American Civil Liberties Union allege their incarcerations were a result of sloppy detective work by the Denver Police Department. In each case, a simple check of the physical descriptions and other identifying information would have told police they had the wrong women, they said.

So they fought back.

'This has to be a mistake'

Rodriguez, 32, turned to a Denver television station to bring attention to her plight when her own detective work couldn't clear her name.

The Aurora woman was stunned that her application for a seasonal job at the post office revealed a supposed criminal past.

"I kept thinking: 'No way, this has to be a mistake,' " she said.

So she quickly called back the post office and asked them to double-check their records. They must have made a mistake, she told them.

But the postal employee said their records showed she was wanted for assault and disturbing the peace.

A trip to the Denver courthouse provided some answers but not enough. So she began calling around to different police districts for clarification. But when that got her nowhere, she drove to police headquarters.

That landed her in jail.

Rocky Mountain News