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, July 20, 2008

New Study On Crime and Grafitti Correlation

Talk to Noah Fritz about the most minuscule of spray-painted initials on a garbage lid and he begins the psychological breakdown of what it all means.

"This to me is the equivalent of a vanity plate," said the criminology professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver, clicking through a graffiti slide show that his students put together on his computer. "What are they trying to tell us? What is the essence of this?"

Fritz and his students have spent a year studying and mapping graffiti in 180 census blocks throughout the city. They hope to see if there is any correlation between graffiti and street crime, and whether simply painting over the marks is an effective way to counter it.

Denver will spend $1.2 million in 2008 on graffiti removal, and officials say they will step up efforts downtown to remove graffiti in preparation for 50,000 visitors coming for the Democratic National Convention.

Fritz, a former crime analyst at an Arizona police department, will be the first one to say he doesn't have all the answers.

He knows that graffiti in Denver runs the gamut from obvious gang communication to the artful mural on the back of the garage. He knows that graffiti here, and probably nationally, is largely misunderstood and that painting over it sometimes dares the taggers into a cat-and-mouse game.

What he hopes to probe — with the help of his criminology students — is: how graffiti in a neighborhood correlates to crime (he'll layer graffiti-defacing maps over crime data); why do kids do it (he'll interview 18-year-olds who may know taggers and compile personal stories) and whether there's anything the city can do about it (a communal graffiti wall? A celebration of graffiti as art?) that would deter taggers from defacing private property.

The Denver Post