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 30, 2009

Time To Kill The Death Penalty

The Greeley Tribune

Even justice has a price tag, and in today’s times, when legislators were talking about cutting $500 million from higher education, we have to make tough choices on the kind of justice we’d like to pursue.

We think the Colorado House made the right decision when it decided to kill the death penalty and use the money toward solving cold cases. 

We understand perfectly why families of victims would want to see the ones who caused them so much pain put to death. But in these times, we simply can’t afford it.

The death penalty is a luxury.

The last death-penalty case tried in Colorado cost $1.4 million to prosecute. It costs around $70,000 to prosecute a non-capital case. You can do the math.

And since the death penalty was reinstated in 1975, the state has executed exactly one person. Was it the person who the state spent $1.4 million to put to death? Nah. He wound up pleading guilty and got life in prison.

There are other things that disturb us about the death penalty — the fact that it really doesn’t deter anything, the fact that minorities are the ones usually sentenced to death or the unthinkable mistakes that kill those who didn’t do it in the first place — but the price tag is enough to convince us to banish it for good.

This is not a plea for sympathy for those convicted of first-degree murder. But life without parole seems like justice to us. Prison is not a fun place, and even criminals have a code, as those who commit brutal murders usually have a tough time behind bars. Jeffrey Dahmer, one of the most horrific serial killers in our nation’s history, was beaten to death by another prisoner in 1994.

Life also accomplishes the same objective as the death penalty by forever keeping them off the streets.

Given that, we prefer to pay for another kind of justice, the kind that solves the cold cases for families that have not enjoyed even the smallest bit of closure other families must feel once they see the one responsible for their pain locked away for good. Instead, the families of unsolved murders know that their loved ones may never receive any justice at all.