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.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ritter Runs From The Issues

You should be scared, very scared.

That's what DAs hope as the legislature contemplates a bill to reform sentencing laws.

Notably silent, at least publicly, is Gov. Bill Ritter, who served 12 years as Denver's chief prosecutor yet ran on a promise to fix what's broken in a state that has built nearly a prison a year.

Behind the scenes, he's pushing lawmakers to abandon reform to one of his many commissions and urging his appointees to stall even further.

Ritter no doubt is trying, at least in his first term, to avoid a Willie Horton scenario or appearing soft on crime. But some say the man once credited as less of a demagogue than most DAs has hoodwinked voters into expecting reforms.

"For those of us who voted for Bill Ritter, it's disheartening that years into his term we've not begun to take a hard look at sentencing and the changes we need," says Maureen Cain of the Criminal Defense Bar.

"He's a problem identifier, not a problem solver," adds state Public Defender Doug Wilson.

If there was ever a time to reform our Reagan-era sentencing laws, this is it.

Facing the biggest shortfall in a generation, Colorado spends $755 million — 8.8 percent — of our budget on corrections, more than we fund for higher ed. Penal programs will get a $22 million increase while state workers face furloughs.

That money pays for the one in 29 adults here under correctional control, says the Pew Center. And for every dollar we spend on prisons, we pay only 15 cents helping parolees and probationers disentangle from the system.

Our policies aren't working. Reformers argue for investing in the community corrections system to reduce recidivism among lower-risk inmates and ultimately lower the budget.

"We cannot build our way to public safety," Pew reports.

The Denver Post


Anonymous said...

The talk is always about public safety?? Who will protect the public from the government who is taxing the public to death to protect us from what??? How is a non violent offender a threat to my safety?? djw

Anonymous said...

The "public safety" hot air is simply that: hot air. SMOKESCREEN. There is something FAR more sinister going on in the state of Colorado. Pay-offs.

Anonymous said...