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, April 22, 2009

Lawmakers Wise to Back Off

The Denver Post

Democratic leaders in the state legislature made the right call when they announced Tuesday that they were shifting gears on a major criminal justice reform bill.

Instead of attempting to cram through a wide-ranging overhaul of the state's sentencing system in the waning days of the session, lawmakers said they would instead ask a state panel to examine the issues and make recommendations to legislators.

It's a wise move that should give interested parties a chance to weigh in on proposed changes, which have the potential to profoundly affect criminal penalties. As we said in a Sunday editorial, sentencing reform is a timely idea given Colorado's budget problems, but it would be irresponsible to make such dramatic changes without thoughtful analysis and debate.

Senate Bill 286 was intended to reduce prison populations — and prison costs — by reducing sentencing ranges for non-violent, property and some drug crimes. As the proportion of the state budget spent on prisons grows ever larger, we believe there is room for well-reasoned and targeted reform.

We were glad to see Senate Majority Leader Brandon Shaffer among those putting the brakes on SB 286, which was written with significant input from the defense bar, but not so much from prosecutors, who voiced concerns about the bill.

In a prepared statement, Shaffer said legislators realized "that with a little more than two weeks left in the session, this topic needs more discussion."

This is a promising show of leadership from the incoming Senate president.

Senate Democrats said they would amend the bill, sponsored by Sens. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, to ask the criminal justice commission to come up with recommendations. More details are expected to be released today, but we would hope the commission would move with significant speed so as to have a raft of well-vetted recommendations by the next legislative session, which begins in eight months.

This should give staff adequate time to calculate potential cost savings from any proposed changes. Along with public safety and sentencing fairness, it's important to know whether such moves will reduce expenses and by how much.


Anonymous said...

After years of tail'em, nail'em and jail'em, Colorado now has a prison population that the budget can no longer support. It's a huge disappointment that the legislators of Colorado would cave to cries from DA's and the AG who are more interested in filling the citizens with fear, all in the name of public safety, and filling the prisons, rather than taking a serious look at the badly broken system and better yet, trying to fix it!!

Please contact your legislators and let them know your thoughts and let them know that they have left the citizens of Colorado down with the wasteful spending in the name of public saftey!

There are other options out there, other than incarceration that are more effective and more cost effective. Please help to end another HUGE waste of taxpayer money in Colorado by signing the petition to end mandatory parole.. a sentence on top of a sentence... a system that is set up to keep the prison doors revolving.. a system that is eating huge chunks your hard earned money.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/end-ma ... lorado-now

Anonymous said...

There will never be sentence reform as long as Ritter is in office. C'mon, he's an ex-DA! He'll make sure the "commission" slowly studies everything until he leaves office...Besides, higher education isn't important -- you can always get a GED in prison. Ha!

Anonymous said...

Next year at this time we will see if it were wise to wait on reform??? I think not as the loss of revenue continues to fall as all predictitions point to, what will Ritter do next year to balance his budget. When it comes we, (Familys Voice for Inmates) will be there to tell him, (loud and clear) We told you so, Ritter.djw

Anonymous said...

DJW.. where I can learn more about Familys Voice for Inmates???

Anonymous said...