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.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Greigo: Shared Burden Still Feels Heavy

Locking people up is not the answer. We have spent decades locking people up and it hasn't changed anything. Being 49th in the nation for funding for treatment has a lot more to do with the pervasiveness of this problem than anything else. Treatment will get you a lot more bang for your buck than a cage and the buck won't be as big.
The Denver Post

It's been several weeks since I wrote about my father and his two arrests for driving under the influence. In the days since, the letters and calls have not stopped coming in, and I am reminded that many more families than we suspect have experienced alcoholism. That we grapple the way we do with how to punish people who repeatedly drink and drive is testament to that fact.

It is not inevitable that a drunk will choose to drive. What is inevitable is that all conversations about repeat offenders will return eventually to the underlying disease. This is a public issue in which many hold a personal stake. It is the mother who begins her letter to me with: "I love a drinker-and-driver — he is my son." It is the woman who says she has lost track of her ex-husband's DUIs.

"Thank God he has not killed anyone, but he has hurt many, primarily himself and those who care and love him. And he knows this."

It is the woman who hands me my iced tea and then tells me she is going through something similar in her life. And the man who writes only two sentences. The first is thank you. The second is, "I have a similar problem." Is he the drinker who drives or the family member watching alcoholism destroy someone he loves? I cannot bring myself to ask.

A man whose first wife died an alcoholic at 48 pointed out rightly that in my list of tactics family members of alcoholics engage in — we plead, we get angry, we blame ourselves — I should have added, "We enable." I remember then how I once refused to keep alcohol in the house when my dad came for an extended visit and how he, in withdrawal, became so irritable, I put a six-pack in the fridge just to buy some peace.

2 comments:

Mary said...

My son received a DUI for eating a hamburger at Burger King in castle rock co. He used to use alcohol to self medicate for anxiety disorders. After therapy and meds. he was beginning to live a normal life and combined with AA he also he was attempting to defeat alcoholism a day at a time. Eight months prior to his DUI a friend of a co-worker picked my son up at my house so that he would have someone to drive him to Denver as he had had been drinking beer. My son did not know him that well but was having a very bad day and needed to get away for the day..At Burger King he pulled into a handicapped spot and a citizen called the police to report it. While eating inside police arrived,and my son told his friend he was going to go out and see what they wanted. As he did so the driver took off out the other door. My son later found out that his driver had no license. The police asked my son if he had been drinking, he said yes, that's why he had someone else drive. Police couldn't find Roy so they charged my son with a DUI and anything else they could think of. It went to court and the judge gave him 18 months in prison. He started his therapy with a psychiatrist after that weekend and was doing great for 6 months.. The judge did NOT consider alcoholism to be a disease nor mental illness to matter at all. Letters and testimony from his doctor were dismissed. His attorney told us that if you are not white, middle to upper class, and perfect, Don't get stopped in Douglas County.

Anonymous said...

It is all about the almighty dollar. We do not punish a diabetic or a cancer victim for being ill, but "we" want to hang and alcoholic for his/her illness, rather than treat the illness. It is the same story with drug addiction. We do not rehabilitate, we punish, only for the defendant to continue to reoffend. It is a vicious, never-ending cycle that will not stop without addressing the illness. In the meantime, it creates bazillions of dollars in revenue for the courts, but does nothing for the addict/alcoholic or their victims.