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

Clemency Board Makes Inroads

Nearly a year after Gov. Bill Ritter established the nation's first juvenile-clemency board, the panel has delved into individual cases — and could soon make its first recommendations on whether to offer some young offenders a second chance.

After establishing eligibility criteria and crafting an application process, the board reviewed two cases at its June 20 meeting, has given four others serious consideration and expects several more to be in the pipeline soon.

Some final clemency decisions likely will come before the end of the year, said Mark Noel, the state director for extradition and clemency. Adult clemency traditionally has been announced around Christmastime.

"This is all new ground," Noel said. "We've had inquiries from all over the world about this board. It's a very careful, serious, deliberate process. These are murder cases. You don't want to rush something like this."

The panel spent months devising a process for juveniles to apply for clemency and working with the Department of Corrections to get the system up and running. Ritter introduced the board as a political compromise to address some cases among at least 45 offenders already sentenced as juveniles to life without parole.

Juvenile-justice advocates, while frustrated by the slow pace so far, still hope the clemency board will turn out to be more than just political window dressing.

"We're not asking that they all come out," said Mary Ellen Johnson, executive director of the Denver-based Pendulum Foundation, a juvenile-justice advocacy group. "We're asking for a realistic chance. One out of 100 is not realistic. I'd like to see 15 of the 45 (serving life without parole) have a realistic chance."

Johnson said her organization also would like to work with the Department of Corrections to implement programs designed to prepare young offenders for life outside of prison walls.

"We don't think, like some (offenders') family members, that you just wave a magic wand and they come out," she said. "It's not going to happen."

Mindful that clemency always carries political risks, she proposes a conditional commutation, in which a juvenile who successfully completes a cognitive-behavior program would go into a halfway house and then gradually acclimate to society.

The Denver Post


Anonymous said...

How could anyone work with the department of corrections??? Why would they need to be involved???djw

Anonymous said...

Oh, no, no, no, no, noooooo!!!

We just KNOW, like some (offenders') family members, that a judge just pounds a dark gavel (arrogantly) and they go in! It's going to happen.


Anonymous said...