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, May 11, 2009

Johnston To Replace Groff In Senate

Denver Democrats picked a high school principal who has been adviser to the president to take the seat of former state Senate President Peter Groff.

Michael Johnston, the 34-year-old Stapleton resident, received more than half the votes cast tonight on the first balloting of 126 Democrats at Smiley Middle School in the northeast Denver district.

Rosemary Marshall, a former state representative who left in 2008 because of term limits, was second.

Businessman Anthony Graves and community activist Renee Blanchard, finished third and fourth, respectively.

"Truly we had some great candidates," said Cindy Lowery, chairwoman of the Denver County Democratic Party. "And it really says a lot for the party in northeast Denver for this many people to come out and vote."

Each of the candidates made an eight-minute speech before the vote. Johnston will serve until at least the next general election in 2010.

Groff stepped down to accept a role in the Obama administration crafting faith-based and community initiatives for the Department of Education

Groff worked with Democrats and Republicans on his pet cause, education.

He said there was little he could tell Johnston, the founder and principal of the Mapleton Expeditionary School for the Arts, or MESA, in Thornton, a public high school lauded by President Obama last year after all of its 44 graduates were admitted to four-year colleges.

Johnston could not be reached immediately for comment.

"He is one of the foremost thinkers in our country on education issues in our country; he's someone who doesn't need my advice on that issue," said Groff, reached in Washington. "I would advise him to work across the aisle with the other party to be able to get things done."

Groff was elected to the Colorado House of Representatives in 2000 and appointed to the Senate in 2003.

He became Colorado's first black Senate president in 2008.

The 21-member Senate Democratic caucus unanimously picked Longmont lawmaker Brandon Shaffer in April to succeed Groff as the chamber's president.