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, September 29, 2008

Bachelors Degree At Sterling

It just shows you what can be accomplished. This is why we need to get money and grants into the system for education so that the people who DON"T have friends or family out there, have the opportunity to get their education. Degrees cost much less than prison beds.

STERLING — While not taking away from the GED achievements, one shining star set the bar high for other academic visions in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Hilary E. Lassek was recognized Friday as the first inmate in Colorado to earn a bachelor’s degree while incarcerated.

Lassek’s story does deserve praise. It is worthy of commendation when a man or woman within the correctional system earns a GED, but Lassek set his sights well above that. He earned his associate’s degree in 2005, and continued on toward his bachelor’s degree in business.

“For me, it took a desire to succeed,” Lassek said after the Friday ceremony, “the desire built the motivation.”

When asked why he chose a degree in business, he said business is applicable in nearly any occupation a person chooses. Before being sentenced, he worked as a software engineer. He hopes to get better at it when he gets out in December.

“My plans right now are to get a second degree in math and computer science,” he said.

His long-term goals are to graduate in all three majors — business, math and computer science.

“What I learned in ASC (Adams State College) will set the path for graduate studies,” he said.

Ari Zavaras, executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, said Lassek’s success consists of a lot of institutions looking outside of the norm — this is the first time an inmate has earned a bachelor’s while inside a prison — and individual motivation.

“I look at this as public safety,” he said.

Journal Advocate