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, May 21, 2009

Bill Requires DNA In Felony Arrests


DENVER (AP) More than 100 years after U.S. law enforcement first began using fingerprints to identify suspects and solve crimes, Colorado and 20 other states are now also using or planning to use DNA profiles.

Gov. Bill Ritter is expected to sign a bill Thursday requiring DNA samples from all felony suspects at the time of their arrest, a change from a requirement that only those convicted of felonies submit DNA. The move has raised concerns that expanding the use of DNA is an intrusion of privacy and a potential violation of constitutional rights that could be reversed by the courts.

Supporters such as Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, who lobbied for the bill, say the move will get habitual offenders off the street faster and prevent crime. Nationwide, thousands of cases, ranging from burglaries to slayings, have been solved with DNA gathered from convicted felons that is entered into a database then compared with DNA collected at a crime scene.

A select analysis of five offender records by Morrissey's office found that three slayings and 18 sexual assaults, along with a host of other violent felonies, could have been prevented in Denver since 1989 if such testing was allowed.

''I do believe expanding the DNA database is the one thing that will cause the resolution of more cold cases,'' Suthers said Wednesday. ''I think across the country it has resulted in significant arrests.''

It's referred to Katie's Law after 22-year-old Katie Sepich, a graduate student at New Mexico State University who was raped and murdered in 2003. Investigators were able to gather her attacker's DNA from skin and blood under her fingernails.

Her attacker was arrested for a felony burglary three months after Sepich's slaying but didn't have to submit DNA. He skipped bail and wasn't tied to the slaying and convicted until three years later.

Sepich's mother, Jayann, began lobbying for a change in law to allow testing at the time of arrest shortly after her daughter's slaying.

''I felt so certain that this man was such a horrible person that he would be arrested for something else,'' said Jayann Sepich, who planned to attend the signing ceremony at the Capitol with Ritter Thursday.

Under Colorado's new law, DNA will be taken from those arrested for felonies through a cheek swab, by reasonable force if necessary, and then sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigations for testing and entrance to the state database. Those not charged within 90 days can ask for their DNA records to be removed for the database.

As an added protection, Republicans and some Democratic lawmakers added a requirement that the state pay $25,000 to anyone whose DNA record was not expunged upon request. A $2.50 charge will be added to all felony and misdemeanor convictions and traffic tickets to pay for the testing


Anonymous said...

DNA collection is only as good as the people who are involved in solving the crimes. Evidence can be removed, altered and destroyed in favor of some other agenda. This bill doesn't necessarily mean justice will remain 100% accurate because far too many of the judges, prosecutors and detectives have severe character deficiencies designed to incriminate the innocent at will. Cover-ups and wrongful convictions will continue. The deliverance of cunning activity will be what alters. Criminal minds exist in these occupations. They are sitting on the other side of the fence.

I do not trust Suthers or Morrissey to act on integrity. Furthermore, just from the tone of my comment, it is apparent I don't trust the criminal justice system in Colorado at all. Experience has taught me very well.

William said...

Although, we remain confounded by the reality that our government has allowed our justice system to be operated by private interests. The NPSCTAPP philosophy has always been “justice” should not be for sale at any price. It is our belief that the inherent and most fundamental responsibility of the criminal justice system should not be shirked, or “jobbed-out.” This is not the same as privatizing the post office or some trash pick up service in the community. There has to be a loss of meaning and purpose when an inmate looks at a guard’s uniform and instead of seeing an emblem that reads State Department of Corrections or Federal Bureau of Prisons, he sees one that says: “Atlas Prison Corporation.”

Let’s assume that the real danger of privatization is not some innate inhumanity on the part of its practitioners but rather the added financial incentives that reward inhumanity. The same logic that motivates companies to operate prisons more efficiently also encourages them to cut corners at the expense of workers, prisoners and the public. Every penny they do not spend on food, medical care or training for guards is a dime they can pocket. What happens when the pennies pocketed are not enough for the shareholders? Who will bailout the private prison industry when they hold the government and the American people hostage with the threat of financial failure…“bankruptcy?” What was unimaginable a month ago merits serious consideration today. State and Federal prison programs originate from government design, and therefore, need to be maintained by the government. It’s time to restore the principles and the vacated promise of our judicial system.

John F. Kennedy said, “The time to repair the roof is while the sun is shinning”. Well the sun may not be shinning but, it’s not a bad time to begin repair on a dangerous roof that is certain to fall…. because, “Incarcerating people for profit is, in a word WRONG”

There is an urgent need for the good people of this country to emerge from the shadows of cynicism, indifference, apathy and those other dark places that we migrate to when we are overwhelmed by frustration and the loss of hope.
It is our hope that you will support the NPSCTAPP with a show of solidarity by signing our petition. We intend to assemble a collection of one million signatures, which will subsequently be attached to a proposition for consideration. This proposition will be presented to both, the Speaker Of The House Of Representatives (Nancy Pelosi) and the United States Congress.

Please Help Us. We Need Your Support. Help Us Spread The Word About This Monumental And Courageous Challenge To Create Positive Change. Place The Link To The Petition On Your Website! Pass It On!

The SINGLE VOICE PETITION and the effort to abolish private “for profit” prisons is the sole intent of NPSCTAPP. Our project does not contain any additional agendas. We have no solutions or suggestions regarding prison reform. However, we are unyielding in our belief that the answers to the many problems which currently plague this nation’s criminal justice system and its penal system in particular, cannot and will not be found within or assisted by the private “for profit” prison business. The private “for profit” prison business has a stranglehold on our criminal justice system. Its vice-like grip continues to choke the possibility of justice, fairness, and responsibility from both state and federal systems.
These new slave plantations are not the answer!

For more information please visit: http://www.npsctapp.blogspot.com or email: williamthomas@exconciliation.com
To sign the petition please visit: http://www.petitiononline.com/gufree2/petition.html


Marcia said...


You have my support.

Thank you so much for your very well written comment and information.

This needs to succeed. Support is essential by everyone concerned with the practice of using human beings as stock commodities in the for-profit prison CORPORATIONS.

Anonymous said...

> ...far too many of the judges, prosecutors and detectives have severe character deficiencies... Criminal minds exist in these occupations...

No doubt about it. Lying is a way of life with cops, so practiced and natural as to fool judges and common citizens alike. That might be expected of common criminals, but it's a far worse sin when done under the color of authority in breach of the public trust. And God help you if you cause them inconvenience like having to go to the trouble of getting a warrant because you decline to waive your constitutional rights and consent to a search they'd like to do. The theft of personal property (taken but not listed on their seizure inventory) and the filing of false charges are two of their little tricks for punishing people on-the-scene. Their justification? One of them explained to me: "We don't like people who don't cooperate."

Of course they know it is extremely unlikely anyone can prove their felonious behavior, allowing them to continue use of those "very important law enforcement tools". What are you going to do, report them to the police?

What most clearly demonstrates their true evil, though, is the fact that they are willing to threaten and carry out harm to a pre-teen child as a means for coercing and punishing an adult.

Never forget: one strong indication that a cop is lying is that you can see his lips moving.

Anonymous said...