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.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Panel Recommends Changes

The state should give paroled inmates more money when they walk out of prison, and people who commit nondriving offenses should not have their driver's license taken away.

Those are just two of the 66 recommendations in the first-ever report released Thursday from the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. The commission, formed by Gov. Bill Ritter and lawmakers in 2007, plans to produce a report on the justice system every year.

Evan Dreyer, a spokesman for Ritter — a Democrat who previously served as Denver's district attorney — said the governor was reviewing the recommendations.

Some of the recommendations require legislative approval, but others can simply be implemented by state Department of Corrections officials or the justice system.

The 27-member commission includes legislators, law-enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors, criminal-defense attorneys, advocates for victims and Attorney General John Suthers.

One recommendation calls for eliminating the mandatory revocation or suspension of driver's licenses for people convicted of nondriving offenses. The penalty doesn't deter crime and makes it harder for offenders to get their acts together, the panel said.

"Driver's license revocation inhibits one's ability to work, receive or attend treatment or other appointments in a timely manner, provide useful public service, or even meet with supervising officers," the panel said in its recommendations.

The recommendation specifically excepts the loss of a license for failure to pay child support.

The panel also said inmates paroled for the first time should get more money upon leaving prison. Since the early 1970s, outgoing inmates have gotten $100, and the amount should be increased to nearly $500 for first-time parolees, the panel recommended.

"We probably can't afford it right now, but it's a conversation we should have," said House Speaker-designee Terrance Carroll, a Denver Democrat who sits on the commission. "You send someone out of the gate with $100, and it doesn't get them very far."

Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, cited the commission's call for trying to reduce the number of people who go to prison for technical violations of their probation or parole — currently about 5,000 people a year, she said.

These violations might include not paying a fine or not showing up for an appointment.

"It's easy to revoke (probation or parole) and just throw people in prison, but it's extremely expensive to do that," Donner said.

She added, though, "The idea isn't just that you turn a blind eye" to violations but provide more intensive services.

The Denver Post


Anonymous said...

Dead on arrival to the legislature. A noble effort, but it will not get ANY support in a legislature that packs guns and only wants to show that they want public safety, at ANY cost. To the Republicans in the legislature that are backed by those who have the real power, the businesses in this state, billions of dollars that will be spent over the next 15 years for a new prison every 2 years and the operations of the projected increase in prisoners is chicken feed.mpc

Anonymous said...

Does Big Brother really own us all, or do we have a choice who we put in the legislature?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Christie Donner on making it clear to all parole officers that to send a parolee back to prison he or she must have comitted a NEW crime, and are sentenced by a court. No more drug testing after release nor other harrasement. djw

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you on this one, djw. We need drug testing on parolees. What the parole officers want is an intermediate place that they can place technical violators until they sober up.
On the other hand, requiring parolees to leave their jobs for visits with their parole officers once a week should be changed to be more flexible, in this modern day of technology.
The parole officers hate this part of their job just as much as the parolees. However, the POs are not the "life coaches" that they should be and pack too many guns and have a poor attitude. mpc

Anonymous said...

MPC, why should a parolee have to take drug tests after release, if they were never incarcerated for drug use nor ever had any drug convictions??? djw

Anonymous said...

They are charging those who walk away from parole or even miss a meeting with the same Escape statute and penalty as if they'd tunneled out of a prison. This adds decades. It's time to rip the places apart from the inside out. That's all they will listen to.

Anonymous said...