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 01, 2008

Weld County Drug Court Launched

Sitting in the witness box last week in Weld District Judge Gilbert Gutierrez's courtroom, Bonnie Sherman reached her hand into a "fishbowl" and drew a slip of paper for a $5 gift certificate.

Sherman smiled as supervisors in the jury box applauded her.

Rarely does Gutierrez see fishbowls, prizes and applause in his courtroom, but this is a different kind of court. This is drug court, and Sherman is one of the first two participants in the three-week-old program.

The Weld County Drug Court, still in its infancy, launched Sept. 11 to offer an alternative for convicted criminals with drug problems who have violated bond and are facing prison.

Sherman, 47, of Greeley, was on probation for criminal impersonation when she tested positive for methamphetamine. Her public defender suggested she check out the drug court.

Sherman met the qualifications and was accepted into the program. She now must adhere to the drug court's strict rules that include multiple drug tests and weekly appearances before Gutierrez.

Sherman sits in the witness box and speaks to the judge and the drug court team sitting in the jury box.

"The defendant sits in the witness box to emphasize the difference in this court, which is basically a treatment court," Gutierrez said.

After spending time in jail, Sherman said she recognized the value of such a program.

"There are a lot of people in jail that can benefit from this," she said. "I am very lucky to be in this program."

Sherman said she is excited to adhere to the program. She said she values her freedom and takes responsibility for her actions.

"I'm very motivated because I really think this can work," she said. "People in the drug court see your progress by what you do."
The Greeley Tribune