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 28, 2008

In Prison To Heal - Denver Post Perspective

It all looks good when you are reading the info packet on what's available in the DOC. The reality is that there are huge waiting lists for education and vocational classes and treatment. It may take months if not years to get into the groups or classes you need. Not everything is available at every prison and the rules don't apply if you go to a private facility. There are fewer than 300 slots available for vocational programs statewide. With 20,000 people in prison that doesn't spread very well. You will usually go to the prison that has a bed available-not to the prison that has the treatment or class that you need.

This month, my brother becomes a statistic, as an American serving a
sentence in prison.
After suffering a personal loss, he chose to console
himself with alcohol, which led to a job loss, which led to more drinking, which
led to crime. Having lost everything but a few possessions, he's now facing at
least two years in prison. That means the rest of my family and I will
become statistics, too. We'll be on the outside, dealing with the
limitations on letters and visits, and missing him at holiday gatherings. We
will also work to support and encourage him to use this time to heal.
Fortunately, that's easier than it used to be. Prisons today offer many
resources to help inmates refocus and prepare for a more positive future.
Colorado prisons house more than 20,000 people, more than double the
population of Alamosa. Gov. Bill Ritter is trying to decrease that number. Since
he took office in January 2007, Ritter has pumped more money into drug, alcohol
and job-training programs aimed at reducing the likelihood that ex-prisoners
will reoffend. His hope is to get inmates to make the most of their time,
instead of just doing it.
That work starts by identifying the causes of the criminal behavior.
According to the Colorado Department of Corrections, almost all Colorado prisons have a chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, and at least half offer Narcotics Anonymous. "We also have mental health staff in each
facility," said Katherine Sanguinetti, spokesperson for the corrections department. "Every incoming inmate goes through an initial assessment, followed
by appropriate treatment."
Education is a high priority of the prison system, too. Inmates who lack a high school diploma or GED are required to go to
class. For those with more education, like my brother, educational and
vocational programs are tied into the community college system, meaning
prisoners can leave the facility and slide right into a classroom.
And there
are many job opportunities.
"There are correctional industries with over 50
different programs," said Sanguinetti, "from training mustangs to building
The Denver


Anonymous said...

THIS IS A LIE PUT OUT BY THOSE IN CHARGE of DOC. I am disturbed that the Post would put out such untruths without checking into the reality of life in DOC.
As the commentor says, the reality is that Ritter has put $6M into much publicized rehab programs, which only serve a tiny minority of the 22,700 prisoners while he spends $162M on a new, unneeded supermax prison. His partner in keeping the prison industrial complex going, Zavaras, has signed a contract for another private prison to house 1,500 more prisoners in Hudson. He has been double bunking every prison in the state. The members of his parole board are sentencing people for years back in prison for violations such as snapping a dish towel. You have to stand in line for hours at most facilities to be seen for medial problems. There is one doctor to cover the entire DOC for HIV infections, which is a rampant condition. Drugs are a common problem. Inmates die each month from overdoses of legal and illegal drugs.
The solution is to close half the prisons, belive it or not. That would MAKE the decision makers release non-violent drug and mental cases into facilities that can treat their problems. Make sure there are stringent regulations on the DOC guards, who terrorize prisoners every single shift. Fire Zavaras and Michaud. Make the DOC follow the state laws regarding putting technical violations back into prison. Make DOC use the resources, like community corrections, that they have been given. Parole officers salaries should be REDUCED in salary for failing to do their jobs, to keep the public safe, but also help the prisoners to get jobs and housing.
Private businesses have been complaining that DOC competes with them, so they can hire illegal aliens to replace the DOC workers, and they can make their riches. mpc

Mary-Ellen said...

Thank you anonymous. I read this yesterday and was "incredulous in West Bath" The writer needs her own education on what really goes on with DOC.

Mary-Ellen said...

In addition; where are our visionaries? What happened to pell grants for inmates? Inmates, and DOC employees should be taking online college courses. How about turning some of these human warehouses into "universities of reform" Where are our volunteer educators and economist that will implement the tranformation of the zoo's caged humans and zoo keepers. Return them to humanity.

bdaviet said...

Rehabilitation my ass... I don't think this writer did her research.

I saw a movie last night called Felon with Val Kilmer, sure it was artistic license, but it really makes you wonder what we are reallydoing to people might be able chane given the right options.

Holding peoples past mistakes against their throats like a razor blade is actully what is endangering society IMO

Anonymous said...

there needs to be more programs for all convicts that are being released...we all know this wont this wont happen...
as an ex-con who did make it once i was out ,It is possible to make it once you are out ,but it takes alot of personal work and a an idea within ones self that they will make it and no one will stop them,You have to work twice as hard and three times as hard to prove yourself , but it is possible because i did it without any programs or anyones help ...

Anonymous said...

I have a friend named...Charlie, that is now back at Buena Vista after being out just two months. He had a job, he had a girl friend, he had housing. Then the DOC parole officer killed a "suspect" 3 feet from his head. He was thrown into city jail for 10 days to keep him from the media. His "girlfriend" stole his money. A car in which he was riding was stopped by Denver Police and there was a hidden stash of drugs in it, which he did not know about. He then was put back in County prison for a month until he lost his job and was sent back to prison for "not reporting" his contact with the Denver Police. Parole and DOC are on a mission to keep the prison industrial complex alive and well, despite putting debts on our grandchildren for their prisons.

Anonymous said...

Boy, I think the lady that wrote this article is badly misinformed!!! CDOC does not offer all these great programs she thinks they do!! Reducing recidivisim would be great but I do not see where building a new supermax is doing that, kind of a mixed message isn't it? Build more prisons so we can put more people in them sounds a little more like it. I could go on and on but it wouldn't be productive so I just advise the author to take a closer look at the system before she praises it!

Anonymous said...

CDOC is the problem. Ritter isnt the cure, remember he was the former prosecutor??? Your assured more prison's. That wont mean more security for the public. Our security wont get better till we get rid of the real problem, The heracrchy at DOC all the dumb ass prosecutors, stupid legislators that think they have to be hard on crime??? Of all the real crime only about 20 percent of all cases belong in court. Wake up Colorado!!! djw

Anonymous said...

Latest decision by Ritter - continue to build CSP II and the new private prison in Hudson. Hiring freeze on all positions until next March. Funding for programs will likely be CUT. There will be even less money for programs as they bring 2,000 more beds on line and add to the total of 22,700 prisoners.

ninjakitty said...

And let's make sure we raise the canteen prices so the families can pay even more money for the prison system! I figure that I spent 6,000.00 the 20 months my husband was in AVCF. I would have gladly spent that amount of money on useful psychological counseling and meds instead if that would have meant keeping him out...now he's on his way back for a new offense...but he discharged his parole while sitting in jail for the new charge, so I am sure that DOC will count him as a "SUCCESS" story!

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