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, November 09, 2008

Ritter's Attempt To Cut Prison Rolls

Rocky Mountain News: It's time for some thinking outside the box when it comes to corrections - particularly as Colorado's recidivism rate, which is a measure of how many inmates wind up back in prison within three years of their release, has jumped to 53.4 percent. Gov. Bill Ritter wants to focus on stemming the flow of return offenders - and promises a hefty return on a relatively small investment.

But can Ritter's anti-recidivism plan - targeted at a prison population where 78 percent are said to have substance-abuse problems and 28.7 percent are deemed to be in need of mental-health services - really eliminate the need for growth in prison beds without jeopardizing public safety?

We think it's worth the investment to find out, while advising a healthy level of skepticism.

The governor touts his anti-recidivism package as costing $10.6 million in its first year while saving $380.5 million over five years. The bulk of those savings would come from not having to expand the Trinidad Correctional Facility by 2,061 beds but the savings also assume no more new beds throughout the entire system by fiscal year 2013-14.

Current Division of Criminal Justice statistics project 4,444 more offenders in the corrections system between the 2009-10 fiscal year and 2013-14. The governor's anti-recidivism plan promises to have 4,965 fewer offenders coming through the system in that time period. In other words, Ritter plans to halt the growth in incarcerated offenders - a laudable but highly ambitious goal given the history of the past two decades.

Rocky Mountain News


Anonymous said...

The Rocky Mountain News, as usual, misses the whole point. If we stop building the prisons, then the administration is FORCED to find better and more meaningful diversion programs. The spector of politicians AND the newspaper riding on "public safety", does nothing to save human lives. Yes, perhaps 1/2 of the prisoners today will always be going in and out of the system because of their cultural or economic state, or just because they are dumb and crazy. The other half deserve a chance to be a productive member of society. Unfortunately the state legislature has the attitude that if they warehouse those that violate the law for the rest of their lives, they have done their job.
This last week an 18 year old and an older fellow committed suicide in our county jail, but did the Denver Post bother to cover it?mpc

Anonymous said...

MPC is right on again and it has to be made clear to everyone, an inmate who is a NON VIOLENT offender is no threat to public safety. So why incarcerate them??? It would be much cheaper to help them with real re-habilitation programs but those programs would have to be run by people outside of of the the Colorado Department of Corrections which have programs to keep people in prison.
To stop prison growth we must take away the money there feeding on. Then policys will change as its now happening in NY, California, South Dakota ect. Maybe the coming depression will force that to happen. DJW

Anonymous said...

Governor Ritter needs to take a look at the way our prisons are run!

We have people in prison serving life without parole (LWOP) who were sentenced 15 or 20 years ago as juveniles. Some are now eligible for clemency hearings but are still waiting. Why don't we consider that it is possible for these people to have been rehabilitated and consider releasing some of them?

We have men serving sentences for convictions other than sex offenses who are labeled as sex offenders by the DOC even though they have never been convicted of a sex offense. Because DOC has classified these men as sex offenders they must wait for YEARS for the Sex Offender Treatment Program (SOTP). They are not paroled even though they serve time waiting to participate in a program that they may not need.

A new law was passed in July that stops DOC from classifying inmates as sex offenders when they have not been convicted of a sex offense without a proper hearing headed by an attorney but the law does not apply to those inmates already classified by DOC. If inmates who have not not committed sex offenses were not classified as sex offenders, they could be paroled.

The AR 150-01, Code of Penal Discipline is not administered according to the regulation. The regulations say DOC "should" do something and DOC says that means it can if it wants to. Look up "should" in the dictionary. Do you have one?

Anonymous said...