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, September 21, 2008

CA Editorial: GOP Won't Cut Prisons

Hopefully, when the Colorado Commission comes forth with recommendations to help curb spending here, our lawmakers will understand the need for changes in a system that is wrought with inefficiencies.

One sad example of the way partisan polarization has helped produce the state's perpetual deficits is the ever-growing budget of the state prison system.

Despite a $15 billion shortfall and a public that repeatedly says the prisons should be the lowest spending priority in government, lawmakers couldn't make a significant dent in prison spending in the budget they approved Friday.

The blame for this failure lies squarely on the shoulders of Republicans in the Legislature.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers agreed earlier this year on a set of carefully written reforms that would have made the prisons more effective, and cheaper. Democrats estimated the savings at $445 million.

The elements were:

• Parole reforms. Instead of the standard three-year parole after serving a prison sentence, nonserious, nonviolent offenders would be discharged from parole after five months of clean time.

• Early release of dying or paraplegic offenders who pose no risk.

• Good-time credits for inmates who complete training programs, providing incentives to prepare for life after prison.

• Updated sentencing thresholds for property crimes (such as grand theft and forgery). For example, the grand theft threshold is $400, unchanged from 1982. That's $925 in today's dollars.

This $445 million package was whittled to $175 million in August. But even that minimal package was unacceptable to Republicans, who tried to paint the Democrats as soft on crime, when in fact the proposals arguably would have made Californians safer. In the end, the package dwindled to just $14 million in savings.

Republicans say they are for fiscal responsibility and efficiency. But when it comes to the prisons, they are big spenders, unable or unwilling to cast a critical eye on the fastest-growing major agency in state government.

The Sacramento Bee


barrijohn said...


Anonymous said...

When the commission finishes it's work, the report will be filed. It will be "dead before arrival". When you have 6500 families (the DOC employee population) depending upon the public dole, you do not get change. It is not as politically sexy as spending a few hundred billion dollars on your PAC contributors.mpc

Anonymous said...

the republican elephant needs to be replaced?? Mpc, whAt would you suggest? As i have always suggested that we return to contitutional goverment. Republicans ignore it. djw

Anonymous said...