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, October 06, 2008

Conviction No Bar To Voting

I wish we would have had this coverage for months prior to this election, but I will take what I can get.

October 05, 2008 12:46 am
Jail inmates awaiting trial can vote.

So can convicted felons who have served their time and completed parole, according to a group that supports prisoners and ex-offenders.

Carol Peeples, re-entry coordinator with the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, said state law spells out the rights of residents to vote.

“A lot of people have been given incorrect information by persons of authority: parole officers, probation officers, clerks and recorders. They have been told that once they have a felony conviction in Colorado, they cannot vote,” Peeples said.

“That is not true. The day a person finishes his or her sentence, including parole, they are eligible to vote.”

It is up to the ex-offender to affirm the right to vote, Peeples said.

“There is not a paper, no announcement, nothing to let them know that this has happened,” she said.

The coalition has mounted a statewide information campaign to alert law officers of inmate rights to vote.

“We sent a packet of information to every sheriff in the state. The Denver County jail has been proactive in getting the information out,” Peeples said. “In Boulder County, only one inmate has asked to vote.”

Pueblo County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz said he was unaware of any jail inmate asking to vote in November.

“No inmates have asked me, but they are supposed to ask whoever is in charge of the jail,” Ortiz said. “They would fill out an application to be registered to vote and the people in charge of the jail would send it to us.”

Ortiz said he was unaware of any ineligible felons trying to register to vote.

“I haven’t seen anything cross my desk and I have seen thousands of applications for voter registration.”

Ortiz’s office is notified when a felony conviction makes a county resident ineligible to vote.

“The Colorado Secretary of State, working the Department of Corrections, flags names in our computer of people who have been convicted of felonies,” Ortiz said. “We have sent 48 letters since August informing people that we have been notified they are unable to vote.

“They need to prove to us that they are eligible to vote,” Ortiz said. "The state wants to make sure if they are in DOC custody or are on parole, they are not eligible to vote.

“If somehow they got through, which is not going to happen, and my office found out they were a felon, they committed voter fraud,” Ortiz said.

The deadline to register to vote is Monday, Ortiz said.

The Pueblo Chieftain