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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.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Penry Criticizes Governors Plan

Channel 8

Monday Governor Bill Ritter put the finishing touches on his plan to cut $320 million from the State budget by next June.

The Governor has turned over a large notebook of information to the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee. It outlines the 100 cuts he plans to include in an executive order on September 1st. Most of the cuts will take effect right away. But, some will require new laws.

Governor Ritter has told lawmakers that his plan will include the elimination of up to 266 state employees and cuts to medical programs and prison services.

These cuts are expected to impact the Grand Valley. The 32-bed nursing facility at the Grand Junction Regional Center is on the chopping block.

Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry says he's very concerned about this proposal.

He says he knows Colorado needs to make spending reductions, but doesn't believe these cuts are the best way to trim the budget.

"We spend more than a million dollars each and every year, the state of Colorado does, hiring lobbyist to lobby state government for more money. Rather than cutting lobbyists, we are cutting basic services to the developmentally disabled," Penry, a Republican, says.

Shuttering the Regional Center's facility would force 32 developmentally disabled patients to be moved to other facilities.

Governor Ritter has said closing the Center will save 1.3 million dollars this fiscal year alone. But, it will eliminate 57 jobs.

Senator Penry says he is fighting for the program

"I've had meetings today (Monday). I pulled a group of stake holders together to see if there is a more thoughtful way to maybe find some additional savings for the State of Colorado, but stopping short of pulling the rug out from under 32 individuals who, frankly, are among the neediest people in our society," Penry says.

The Senator is also concerned about proposed cuts to the state's prison system. He says this could mean thousands of inmates would be released up to six months early. He believes some of those inmates have actually been denied parole by the state parole board.

Senator Penry says none of these proposals are cemented yet. He adds that legislators can choose to step in once they reconvene in January.

The Regional Center's nursing facility is expected to continue operating until February 1st.

Governor Ritter has said he does not want to make these cuts, but says it's essential to allow other state services to continue.


Anonymous said...

You darned right they probably have been denied parole. The parole board keeps everyone as long as possible no matter if they have lived an almost perfect life inside for years and are 70 or more years old. There is absolutley no motivation to work for self inprovemnt.

Anonymous said...

I understand that these people are truly the neediest ones. Parole is almost always denied the first time around for no reason except "not enough time". Well they are eligible for parole so how can that be true?

If you look at DOC's own stats, non-violent offenders and those serving short sentences who only go up for parole one time are serving a longer part of their sentence compared to people who are considered violent or have received lengthy sentences. What a huge disparity right there!

This plan will actually start forcing the parole board to release people early who are compliant and doing well. I also think this will be a big motivator in behaving in prison...it's the first positive thing these inmates have seen in a long time!