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 06, 2009

State Pull Back After Decades Of Get Tough Laws


For the last four decades, the laws of the land were all about dropping the hammer on crime by locking away criminals for a very long time.

Some carried scary names like "Three Strikes and You're Out," as in cast out of society. The harshest penalties for drug offenders, the Rockefeller laws, were named after a New York governor battling a 1970s heroin epidemic.

Nearly half the country and the federal government have adopted some kind of hardcore laws, while "get tough on crime" became the mantra of politicians running for everything from the local city council to the president of the United States.

The public, too, was enamored. The laws promised to make life safer in increasingly unsafe times by putting away bad guys and hiding the keys for years — no more slaps on the wrist, no matter if the ultimate offense was having drugs in your pocket or stealing golf clubs.

But after cracking down and incarcerating hundreds of thousands, cash-strapped states including New York, Kentucky and Kansas are pulling back. They face an uncommon confluence of dire economics and prisons bursting at the seams and several have changed, in whole or in part, their stances on hard punishment.

Their reasons: the get-tough laws didn't always work, especially when it came to slowing recidivism, the revolving door of prisoners who get out, mess up again, and come back. There were legal challenges, and questions about whether the punishment always fit the crime.

And of course, there's the money. In tough economic times, the expensive laws are increasingly being deemed expendable.

Last week, New York reached an agreement to repeal the last vestiges of the Rockefeller drug laws, once considered the harshest in the nation.

It's expected to save some $250 million per year — New York spends about $45,000 annually per inmate while treatment cost estimates are $15,000 or less — at a time when the state is grappling with a projected budget hole of $17.7 billion.


Anonymous said...

colorado should do the same. We have people going back to prison for a felony when thier crime was not calling thier parole officer. Never took off his ankle braclet, but still got a felony for escape. Next thing he does wrong, which might be not calling parole officer again, the third strike. He was working, staying out of trouble, but still got a felony, harsh criminal, wasn't he. The crimeis putting offenders in shelters that have more crimes going on than not. Some even ask to be put back into jail then have to stay at some of these shelter. Why not spend some of that money that we could save in prisons and get law abidding shelters for them

Anonymous said...

What is needed is a govenor who will appoint a real human being for the job as CDOC head other than bringing an old decrepid retired ex cop out of retirement to do a job he is totally unfit and unqualified to do. At the next election make your vote really count. Dont vote for attorneys for anything.djw

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