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.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Governor To Hear Recommendations

CCJRC has been heavily involved with this project. For a list of recommendations

2008 Recommendations

We will keep you updated on those that are approved and any other developments as they arise.

Should an inmate who cracks the books and earns a diploma get out early?

What about positive-reinforcement programs in prisons - do they work?

Those ideas are among 66 recommendations for reducing prison costs - and possibly, prison sentences - that will be presented to Gov. Bill Ritter on Thursday.

The list represents 10 months of work by the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice, formed by Ritter in January. It would affect both adults and juveniles who make up the state's inmate population of 23,300.

The panel's overriding goals were to find ways to reduce soaring prison costs without compromising public safety or shuffling the costs from one agency to another, said Lance Clem, spokesman for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

It is up to Ritter to choose which of the ideas to push. Most of the points could be implemented through directives to state agencies, such as the Department of Corrections. But 13 of them would require legislative approval.

Prison and parole costs eat up about 8 percent of the state budget and likely will grow to 12 percent in a few years.

In the last fiscal year, the Department of Corrections received more than $636 million, which, adjusted for inflation, was more than four times what it received 20 years ago, according to a report done for the state earlier this year.

The recommendations were drawn up by a 27-member panel that includes representatives of law enforcement, as well as attorneys, victims rights advocates, elected officials and corrections experts.

Clem said the actual cost savings can't be estimated until the governor decides which recommendations to act on.

The proposals that would require legislative approval include:

* Abolishing laws that keep some ex-inmates from receiving driver's licenses. Driving is a key to employment and becoming a productive member of society, the panel said.

* Lifting any statutory barriers that would prevent funding of secondary education for inmates.

* Giving inmates opportunities to reduce their sentences by completing certain goals, such as education degrees.

* Offering positive-reinforcement programs and incentives to help inmates complete probation.

Rocky Mountain News


Anonymous said...

Governor Ritter needs to take a look at the abuses in the prison system.

1. Inmates who have NOT been convicted of a sex offense are being required to participate in the SOTP as a condition of being grated parole when the waiting list for the SOTP is YEARS long!

2. The new law that became effective July 1, 2008 now says that DOC cannot label inmates who were not convicted of a sex offense as sex offenders without a hearing chaired by a licensed attorney. However, the thousands of inmates already in that situation are not covered by the new law!

3. AR 150-01 says an inmate who has been convicted of an offense in prison (a write-up) should receive the disposition within ten working days. If the inmate doesn't receive the disposition, the inmate may appeal the write-up.

My son did not receive the disposition for well over the ten working days. It was received more than one week PAST the ten working days! The Private Prison Monitoring Unit (PPMU) officer said that the regulation says "should -- not must" so the PPMU officer can do what he pleases!!

I suggest the PPMU, Ari Zavaras, and Gov. Ritter look up the definition of "should" in the dictionary. "Should" is defined as the past tense of "Shall." "Shall" is defined as "ought to or must or will have to."

I know of two other inmates in the recent couple of months in the same facility who did not receive the dispositions in time and their write-ups were expunged. But the PPMU officer is refusing to expunge the write-up for my son. It sounds like disparate treatment to me!!!

Any comment, Gov. Ritter??? Mr. Zavaras?

The public would love to hear from you on these issues.

The inmates can't ask you so we as family members must!! Or should I say "should?"

Anonymous said...

The Rocky Mountain News covered this with a headline that "Ritter has plan to cut prison costs by $380M". Unfortunately, most of that is by cutting just one new prison from his plans. It would be another 2,061 bed expansion of the Trinidad facility. I visited that prison this last weekend. The staff runs it completely differently from the prisons in Canon City. It has segregation by races in the dining hall. It does not have any significant programs for the 480 current inmates. I have been told that they cannot find anyone to teach the courses, even if they offered them, it is so remote (next to the New Mexico border). I have been told that the number of unassigned inmates for any job other than the kitchen, is 350 of the 480 present inmates.
What if they took that $380M and spent it on education instead of prisons?mpc

Anonymous said...

How could the governor make any decision when he is being fed a bunch of lie's by the DOC??? djw

Anonymous said...

What about the new prison, CSP II, that's under construction in Canon City?

Is the Governor speaking out of both sides of his mouth?

How can Gov. Ritter claim he's cutting $380,000,000?

Anonymous said...

I'd also like to chime in on the SOTP and parole issue...

My boyfriend is doing a 13 year sentence on assault charges... all sex offense charges (which were BS to start with to get a guilty plea so the DA could put another notch in her belt) were dismissed by the DA as part of the plea agreement (factual basis was waived). However, DOC has classified him as an S-4 and is requiring his participation in SOTP.

He is told he has a chance at parole without completing the program but we all know that is a load of BS!! He is now receiving 6 days of earn time a month rather than the full 10 because he's non-program compliant. What I don't understand is how DOC overpowers the courts in Colorado in labeling individuals as sex offenders!?!?

(I was told by an attorney in Colorado that there are two sets of laws in Colorado... the Courts and DOC. And as long as an individual is in DOC it's their law that governs.)

I also don't understand how SOTP can demand an individual to admit guilt to committing a crime that they were never convicted of just to participate in the program and have a chance at parole and earning the full ten days of earn time... That is totally against the Constitution (but then what does the Constitution mean these days!)!!

Why isn't somebody trying doing something about these injustices that are taking place within the Colorado Justice System??? Why doesn't the government put the power back in the Courts where it belongs rather than allowing DOC to play God with so many lives??

On the issue of parole... If someone wants to cut the recidivism rate in Colorado how about making parole doable rather than setting parolees up for failure and filling beds with technicial violations. The statistics are there.. most parolees who return to prison are on tech. violations rather than new charges... Come on Colorado, open your eyes!!!

I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to come up with ways for Gov. Ritter to cut prison costs... take off the blinders and I think you'll find the answers!!

UGH... This entire situation infuriates me but like everyone else in our situation.. I don't have the resources or the money to fight the State of Colorado on this matter. If anyone has any ideas on how to get this non-sense stopped, I'd love to hear them and be part of it!!

Anonymous said...