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, April 16, 2009

Sentencing Reform

9 News

DENVER (AP) - Democratic lawmakers introduced a bill Wednesday that would roll back sentences for some lower-level felonies in an effort to stop the growth of Colorado's corrections budget.

The measure (Senate Bill 286) would also mandate that first-time offenders caught committing property crimes like writing bad checks or trespassing not be sent to jail unless they have a prior record. It would also make drug possession a separate crime from drug dealing, allowing drug addicts to be treated under supervision rather than locked up.

It would even change the punishment for people already behind bars. Inmates who escape would be punished more severely than those who simply attempt to get out but don't make it.

Sen. Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora) said it costs over $30,000 a year to keep someone in prison, the equivalent of supporting the education of five children or paying health insurance premiums for three families for a year.

"These are not abstractions. This is not academic. We have to decide where our values and priorities are," said Carroll, who is co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate with Democratic Sen. John Morse, the former police chief of Fountain.

In the House, the measure is sponsored by Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) and Rep. Mike Merrifield (D-Colorado Springs).

The bill is backed by public defenders and mental health advocates, who say many people end up in trouble with the law because of untreated mental illness. The Independence Institute, a free-market think tank, also says it supports sentencing reform but isn't taking a position on the bill.

The Colorado District Attorneys Council opposes the measure, and Gov. Bill Ritter, Denver's former district attorney, also has problems with it.


Anonymous said...

Of course district attorneys will have a problem with this. However, this has been far too long waiting for the Republicans to come out in favor of conserving spending.
Why was this bill delayed for so long?

Anonymous said...

District Attorneys powers need to be reformed period. Reason is the many cases of attorney abuse of power by lying, using deceitful tactics in there efforts to convict people and send them to prison for non violent crimes. Even going so far as bringing many false, fabricated charges they couldnt prove in a jury trial. They should have no input in legislative matters.djw

Anonymous said...