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, July 16, 2009

From The Pen To The Plate

The Denver Post

The men wearing green uniforms and tall rubber boots spread out across the compound, herding goats into pens, pouring grain into feeding troughs and serving as nursemaids to those giving birth.

Many of these guys, all prisoners at the Skyline Correctional Center in Cañon City, had never touched a goat or heard one bleat before becoming involved with Colorado Correctional Industries, a division of the state Department of Corrections. It's likely, too, that few of the prisoners had ever tasted goat cheese.

But that's what happens to nearly every drop of milk the prisoners draw from the animals, most of which goes to Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy in Longmont. Cheesemakers there transform thousands of gallons of milk from the Cañon City goats into chevre logs, cubes of feta, pungent rounds of raw milk cheese and more.

And then a shopper at a Costco in Littleton, or a cheese connoisseur at a gourmet boutique in Philadelphia, or a diner at a fancy restaurant in San Diego will buy the cheese. The diner will chew the slice of Red Cloud and marvel over its evocative flavor.

How does milk from a prison complex in remote Colorado end up on the fork of a debutante?

It begins in the pen.

Tall, muscular, tattooed and in prison for cocaine distribution, Thomas R. Major III seems an unlikely nurturer of goats.

But a year into his seven-days-a-week apprenticeship, he's one of the leaders of the goat-milk operation.

"It's human nature. You get attached to something the more you hang out with it," said Major, 31, as 56 goats standing on a pair of high concrete platforms on either side of him ate grain and permitted prisoners to connect milking contraptions to their udders. Between the goats' staccato cries and the rhythmic shushing sound of the milking machines, he had to nearly shout to make himself heard.


Anonymous said...

A very interesting story,only DOC has the wrong people milking the goats. Those working at DOC headquarters should be milking them, then they would have a constructive job??djw

Anonymous said...

When I was growing up (I am 58), our state had one men's prison and it was self-supporting. They had a fully operational and productive farm, as well as other industries for manufacturing products for sale, as well as use. Why can't more of this mentality exist today? The accomplishments were many; it kept prisoners busy and productive (there was no sitting in a cell and not working - all worked at something); it taught them useful skills to use outside the walls; it gave them a work ethic; it save tax payers money; it no doubt gave them a better self-esteem and desire to accomplish something; animals can be theraputic; etc. I believe that, given the manpower in prison, they could all be self-sufficient with proper structure, management, and administration. There is no rehabilitation to prison today. It is purely punative and useless. It creates worse people with little or no opportunity for success once released. It's jacked up!

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