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 27, 2008

Ohio's Short Term Offender Program

Reginald Fields
Plain Dealer Bureau

Columbus -- Willie Wheat Jr. is tired of stretching the truth, to put it kindly, when he explains to his 6-year-old daughter why he's never home.

"We tell her, Daddy's on vacation,' " the Cleveland man says with a tinge of regret as he pauses to let those words sink deep.

Actually, Daddy is locked up, doing his third stint in state prison for being a small-time, drug-peddling street hustler. He doesn't have the heart to tell the girl the truth.

But this trip to the slammer is different for Wheat. He's getting help. He'll come out with a high school diploma. He's getting advice on how to handle adversity. And he's learning to live debt-free so that quick cash from dealing dope won't be so tempting.

It's the type of help Wheat wanted before, but he was always shut out of programs, he said. He thinks its discipline will keep him out of prison.

Wheat is enrolled in the Short Term Offender program at the Lorain Correctional Institution, where inmates with three months or less to serve before they are released are moved into isolated housing and offered a list of classroom-based programs.

Offering inmates programs such as fast-track GED, anger management and victim awareness is nothing new. But how the programs are now being structured at three Ohio prisons is.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has a problem: too many inmates and too few programs to serve them. Compounding that problem is that 60 percent of Ohio's 50,000 inmates -- like Wheat -- are in prison for less than a year.

Those prisoners almost always miss out on programs because they are often released without ever coming off the long wait lists for services.

To address the problem, the corrections department began its Short Term Offender programs at its three intake prison facilities. Prisoners who arrive with months rather than years before they go home are shoved to the front of the programming line.

"I know right now that the people who are in that program have the ability to get something that they have not gotten before," corrections director Terry Collins said.

"Before, when you came in the system it was first-come, first-serve when you got there," he said. "Now when you come in the system, we take you to the front of the line."

At Lorain, inmates in the program are also kept in separate housing, said Warden Marc Houk, a change made three months ago.

Before, inmates with short terms would come in, mix with the general population and, more often than not, ride out their days in prison without giving thought to working or participating in a rehab program.

Read the Article Here


Anonymous said...

One good thing that CO DOC does is to get the inmates into programs. They have a GED program. They have college credits. They are beginning to help those that are getting out.
However, there is not a good plan for the transition and the parole office does not have a clue. They are there to brighten their badge with re-arrests, NOT to help inmates. Prisoners are dumped in downtown Denver and told to report to the DOC office right away. It takes hours and hours in that Sherman Parole office to be seen.
They are expected to find a job that is flexible enough for them to take off right away and FREQUENTLY for UA tests and weekly paperwork followups. It is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to follow all the regulations, get a job, report in, ask every person if they are a felon and not get hit, and not to be stopped by the Denver Police for absolutely no good reason.mpc

Anonymous said...