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.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cold Cases Bear Worse Penalty

The Denver Post

Twenty-two years ago today, someone got away with murdering Janice Currie and Walter Marshall.

The case remains cold. And now their family says its grief is renewed as law enforcers scramble to kill a bill that could help nab the killers.

"Losing your mom is hard enough. But knowing that public officials are working against our wishes, well, that makes it tougher to bear," says Currie's daughter, Stacye Walker.

The bill, scheduled Monday for a hearing by the House Judiciary Committee, would abolish Colorado's death penalty and use the savings for cold-case investigations.

Murder cases are unresolved in 110 of Colorado's 255 police and sheriff's departments, many of which lack the manpower to fully investigate. The measure could create a cold-case team at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation funded with at least $670,000 — 10 times what the agency now spends a year.

Proponents figure funding would come by scaling back the $350,000-a-year capital-crimes unit of the state attorney general's office, saving $400,000 in what public defenders spend defending capital cases, plus untold dollars in court costs.

"Any other program that spends the money we spend with the results that we get with the death penalty would have been gone years ago," says House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, the bill's sponsor.

In the past 30 years in Colorado, one man, Gary Davis, has been executed, by lethal injection.

Convicted murderers not sentenced to death must serve life in prison without parole.

New Jersey nixed its death penalty in 2007. New Mexico, Maryland, Montana and Nebraska are considering similar moves.