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.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Approach To Crime and Punishment

The Denver Post
By Ari Zavaras and Pete Weir

From the moment Gov. Bill Ritter took office in January 2007, he has made public safety one of his top priorities. That commitment included the launch of several innovative initiatives aimed at reducing Colorado's prison recidivism rate.

"More than half of Department of Corrections' inmates wind up back in prison within three years," Gov. Ritter said in his first State of the State address. "That's simply an unacceptable number. The costs are spiraling out of control and eating into our ability to fund education and health care. We can do better here in Colorado, and we're going to."

With a sharp increase in prison inmates and costs over the past decade, we now spend 9 percent of state government's General Fund housing 23,000 prison inmates, which is more than we invest in educating approximately 220,000 college students. With declining revenues and an ongoing budget crisis, that imbalance is becoming more and more pronounced.

Ritter, who spent 25 years as a criminal prosecutor, recently introduced a two-year pilot program that will advance his anti-recidivism initiatives and save taxpayers nearly $20 million this fiscal year. This is a responsible plan, one that has the support of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police. In the face of overheated political rhetoric, it's important to separate fact from fiction.

This plan will:

• Accelerate the transition off of parole for 2,600 offenders who have met their parole goals and completed at least half of their parole term.

• Reinvest savings from this transition into front-loaded, enhanced services and supervision for new parolees.

• Accelerate the transition from prison to parole for 3,500 eligible offenders who would leave prison within six months anyway.

This is not a California plan, where the prison population is being reduced by 27,300 inmates, or an Illinois plan, where 1,000 prison jobs are being cut.

This is a carefully crafted, moderate Colorado plan. It is based in evidence and research. It is strategic and grounded in recommendations from the nonpartisan Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, and it fully engages the Parole Board in the decision-making process. Offenders who are likely to re-offend are likely to go nowhere. They will continue serving their sentences.

According to the Pew Center on the States' Public Safety Performance Project, Arizona, Maryland, Nevada and Pennsylvania are following a similar strategy. Maryland's results are particularly impressive. Colorado should be on this list.


Anonymous said...

"From the moment Gov. Bill Ritter took office in January 2007, he has made public safety one of his top priorities." --- When Gov. Ritter (among others) KNOW about wrongful convictions, the KNOW the real criminal is walking among society. Yet ... they do NOTHING to reverse the wrongful convictions of many. This is NOT public safety as a top priority. Zavaras, Suthers and Ritter remain deceptive about the corruption in the courtrooms. There are no excuses for keeping the innocent in prison while the guilty remain free to commit more crimes. They have been given the green light by the very people who can reverse this reprehensible trend in the 'justice' system. The unwillingness to right a wrong is criminal.

As far as recidivism goes, how do you, sirs, expect an indigent inmate to 1) get a sustainable job 2) get rent 3) integrate back into society WITHOUT any guidance with YEARS lost; culture shock 4) apply the meager sum of $100.00 to ease them into society for ... 6 hours?

The insensibility of all of these acceptable forms of discrimination force many of these guys back into the ever-revolving door of recidivism. The lucky ones are those with family members who have homes to return to. In truth, there is no concern for those who struggle and are kicked back into the system on technical parole violations.

These people have done their time. Mandatory parole and the deliberate discrimation is a set-up to keep private prison beds filled. The system is designed for failure to the majority of these men and women.

Public safety means integrity in the courts. Integrity is sorely lacking in the system. The public is in dire need of safety by public servants doing their jobs without conscience or honor.

Anonymous said...

The revolving door will remain open until the practice of returning parolee's to prison,by the use of technical violatins is stopped. I say the only way a parollee should be sent back is if he commits another crime. Not a traffic stop or misdeamenor things.djw

Anonymous said...

i got sent back over a phone call after 2 years on an ankle bracelet and 6 months on regular parole and now 9 years later they are going after me for what was left of my restitution payment by ruining my credit,suspending my license and putting out an outstanding judgement warrant for not paying what was left of my restitution after 9 years ...
they wont let us succeed even when we do good and get out and stay out of the system ,they still try there tricks to get us back in there broken system...
Charlie T.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Mr.Zavares... Two words. "Mandatory Parole!" Get it?