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.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Judge Orders DOC To Pay For Health Care - CA

(10-06) 17:25 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- The federal judge who took control of California's decrepit prison health care system in 2006 made it clear Monday that he intends to order the state to pay the first installment of an $8 billion plan to bring the system up to constitutional standards.

At the close of a hearing in San Francisco, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson promised a ruling later this week and left little doubt about its contents: an order requiring state prison officials to turn over $250 million to a court-appointed overseer to begin construction in February on the first of eight planned new medical facilities for about 10,000 prisoners.

Henderson removed the $1.1 billion prison medical system from state control more than two years ago after finding that shoddy health care was killing one inmate each week and that state officials were incapable of complying with the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. This June, the judge approved the plan by his appointee, Clark Kelso, to build new medical and dental hospitals and to refurbish some current facilities.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration has maintained that it can't set aside bond funds for the construction without approval from state legislators, who have repeatedly rejected funding proposals.

On Monday, Henderson said it's too late for that argument. He noted that state officials took part in discussions on the construction plan and voiced no objections before he approved it in June.

Their current position "would seem to allow federal constitutional rights to be trumped any time they thought the remedy was too expensive," the judge said. "That's not the way our constitutional system works."

Kelso has asked Henderson to hold Schwarzenegger and state Controller John Chiang, who signs the state's checks, in contempt of court and fine the state $2 million a day for failing to fund the construction.

"The state has failed in its duty to provide that funding," Kelso, a veteran state troubleshooter and professor at McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, told the judge.

SF Gate