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, August 06, 2009

From the Slammer To The Streets and Back Again

The Boulder Weekly
For prison parolees, transitioning from life behind bars to life in society is not without its barriers. Stable employment can be difficult to find with a criminal record. Affordable housing complexes are free to reject an individual whose last address was in a Colorado state prison. And simply readjusting to a completely different lifestyle as a free individual has its own stresses. But, as an Aug. 4 report released by the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) indicates, all of those factors can be compounded when the person released from prison is homeless, and it’s an issue that begs public response, especially during a state budget crisis.

The study, titled “Homelessness and parole: A survey of Denver’s shelters,” tackles this topic. Its findings are many: A little less than half of the parolees interviewed were homeless for the first time in their lives; their unemployment rate is significant (71 percent); and access to mental-health services or even required parole visitations (meetings, urinalysis tests) felt limited and oftentimes overwhelming to those surveyed. The study was conducted after Denver shelter employees consistently relayed a perceived increase in the amount of homeless parolees in their facilities.

“Most people want to start over,” says Carol Peeples, re-entry coordinator with CCJRC and the author of the report. “They want to make a concerted effort, and the only time you hear otherwise is when people are so frustrated that they can’t make it — the doors are not open and they are not able to access services, not able to get a job, not able to do what they need to do.”

And it’s a problem that may be further complicated by an impending shelter closure. The Metro Denver Salvation Army announced on July 29 that it will be closing its overnight shelter as of Aug. 10, 2009. The 1901 29th St. shelter (known as Crossroads) also happens to be the same location where the CCJRC report found most parolees living (83 percent of those interviewed resided at Crossroads).

Roger Miller of the Metro Denver Salvation Army Public Relations Office noted that the closure of the Crossroads shelter is part of an effort to better serve the homeless population of Denver by transferring their focus toward their more transitional programs.


Anonymous said...

Carole People has to realize several things. First the homeless issue is caused by the DOC and no one else. Instead of incourageing the inmate to stay in touch with there familys they urge them to not have anything to do with family and friends. I have first hand expierience with this ctivity. 2nd , the job issue, let the inmate go where there are jobs. I doubt i could get a job in downtown Denver. The envirement there sucks. The people who work down town at the courthouse, law offices, judges ect. Where do they live? In a suburb miles away. Also many inmates have opportunitys to work in other states than Colorado. Yet Colorado doc has many obstacles, rules regulations and beuracracy stopping them.
If DOC really wanted to solve the problem they could by just starting rehab programs as soon as they recieve inmates instead of warehousing them and punishing them. The inmate got enough punishment in losing there liberty.djw

Barney said...

The first, and biggest, thing they could do is to do away with mandatory parole. The second is transitional programs/training beginning while still in prison. The third is rehab and treatment while incarcerated. Those men and women sit in prison and rot rather mthan making good use of the time they are incarcerated. Prison used to be for the purpose of rehabilitating the criminal to make them a better citizen once release back into society. Now it is purely penal and of no value. The only persons who should be locked up are those who are a danger to others. They need to be locked up to protect the people they endanger. Even many of those do not belong in prison, as many are mentally ill and belong in mental hospital rather than prisons. There is no "help" for anyone in our prison system. Non-violent offfenders of victimless crimes do not belong in prison.

Anonymous said...

I think a "Ban the Box" movement is in order in Colorado. Let an ex-felon explain his/her incarceration when offered a position -- not when applying for one.