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, August 11, 2008

Stopmax: The Fight Against Supermax Heats Up

And we continue to build one of our own here in Colorado. They have broke ground on CSP II and are going to have to be creative in how they fill it up.

By Jessica Pupovac, AlterNet
Posted on August 11, 2008, Printed on August 11, 2008

"When I left Angola," says Robert King Wilkerson, who spent 29 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana's notorious Angola State Penitentiary for a crime he was later found innocent of, "I said, 'I may be free of Angola, but Angola will never be free of me.'" Since his release seven years ago, the vow has taken him to rallies, churches and talk shows across the globe. Earlier this summer, it brought him to Philadelphia for the first-ever StopMax Conference, where he told stories, analyzed the state of the American prison system and collaborated with a throng of like-minded activists determined to "end the use of solitary confinement and related forms of torture in U.S. prisons."

Wilkerson is a former member of the Black Panther Party and one of the Angola Three. He spent more than 30 years in prison for the killing of a prison guard, along with two other former Black Panthers -- Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace -- before being exonerated by the state of Louisiana in February 2001. Woodfox and Wallace still languish in prison. They are the longest-held prisoners in solitary isolation to date in the United States.

On a Friday early this summer, Wilkerson addressed a crowd composed of both supporters and curious passers-by outside Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary, which opened its doors in 1829 as the first institutionalized experiment in long-term solitary confinement. Over the past 40 years, with modern advances enabling an unprecedented level of isolation and control, the practice has been systematized, standardized and forced upon thousands of people across the country, from murderers to drug addicts and petty thieves.

Wilkerson was one of many modern-day solitary survivors who brought focus and momentum to the StopMax Conference, organized by the American Friends Service Committee. Bonnie Kerness, Prison Watch coordinator for the AFSC, said that over the past two decades, the organization has received an "astounding" number of letters from people in solitary confinement describing the abuse that occurs in their desolate cells. She told AlterNet that "they describe in excruciating detail," among other things, "the uses of devices of torture -- forced medication, restraint beds, restraint chairs …"

"And now we're also starting to hear from juveniles," she says, "so it's almost at a point where, how could we not respond?"



Joe G. said...

Whatever happened to our protection from 'cruel and unusual punishment' as dictated by the Constitution of the United States. It was ALSO made applicable to the STATES by the fourteenth amendment. What ISN'T cruel and unusual about keeping a man locked up in a 12X8 cell for 30 years? For 1 year! 365 days! 8,760 hours! If you think about it, that's a long time! And Jon Q. Public has no clue. Especially when it comes to punishing 'whiskey man' for what 'just a man' has done. It's sad. And it just can't keep going on. EVERYTHING in this country is for sale, even your freedom. It's not about 'corrections', it's about manipulation, and who can profit from it. If it was about 'corrections', you would think that the %80 percent of offenders who commit their 'crimes' while under the influence would get treatment, not incarceration. And you would think that the treatment they get would have some accountability attached to the treatment providers. None of that is the reality. Not only do 'offenders' get long stretches in d.o.c. if they are really sick, the treatment is a joke. 1 'class' once a week, and if you don't show or can't pay, you have a p.o. to contend with. And as everybody in the system well knows, they aren't there to help. It's a joke.

Anonymous said...

Joe G makes some very good points.
Unfortunately no one will listen to a Black Panther.
I was excited when I saw the headline, thinking that someone in Colorado cares more than their pocket book....oh well.

We have to march on the State Capitol and demand they stop this inhumane system. 2/3 of those in DOC need treatment. Ritter puts all the smiles on a 6M drug rehab, and builds 1800 new prison beds in the next year!

Anonymous said...

The people of Colorado need to quit electing attorneys for Governors. You need to elect people with COMMON SENSE, not degree's.djw

Anonymous said...