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 21, 2008

Drug Laws Fertilize Teen Violence

Joy Strickland, the CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence in Dallas writes this thoughtful piece.

As an advocate in the crusade to prevent teen violence, my starting point is that every child deserves a safe and supportive home, school and community. Prevention strategies such as mentoring and conflict resolution – not to mention personal responsibility – are key pieces of the strategies of Mothers Against Teen Violence and other groups committed to preventing violence in our communities.

But those pieces are only part of the solution and must be balanced and supported by a rational and effective national drug policy.

Enacted during the Nixon administration, the so-called war on drugs was designed to reduce supply and diminish demand for certain substances deemed harmful or undesirable. But the drug war has never met this objective, and unintended consequences have undermined the health and safety of our citizens, especially our children.

I will never forget 9-year-old Cory Weems, who was killed by a stray bullet in 1994 while having ice cream on his grandmother's front porch in Dallas. A drug dealer engaged in a car chase was convicted of this crime. Cory's picture hangs on my office wall, a reminder of one of the drug war's victims.

Or consider that despite billions spent annually toward arresting and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people for marijuana offenses, high school students continue to find marijuana easy to obtain.

By some estimates, as many as 250,000 people die every year from the proper use of prescription drugs. On the other hand, I am not aware of one single death directly caused by marijuana. Yet we pay $25,000 per year to send a drug user to prison, where he will likely have access to the same drugs for which he has been incarcerated.

If we can't keep drugs out of prisons, it is irrational to expect that we can keep them off our streets. It is equally irrational to lock up an individual because of what he chooses to put in his own body.

Drug addiction is not a moral issue. It is a medical problem requiring medical intervention. But if news reports are any indication, it is easy to believe that the rich and famous go to rehab while the poor go to jail. This disparity is the real moral issue.

Dallas News


Anonymous said...

lets lock up the rich and famous, then maybe we could get rid off the war on drugs which has proven worthless, ruins lives as well as familys, for what???djw

Anonymous said...

How do you think the inmates get the drugs? In Colorado, it has been proven in case after case that it comes in with the corrupt prison guards in the DOC system.

Anonymous said...