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.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Prisons and Colleges Top States Budget Cuts

Pew Report on Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Faced with a total budget gap of $215 billion for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, most U.S. states looked to their prison and university budgets for relief, according to a report released on Thursday.

At least 18 states raised income or sales taxes to cover budget holes that, when added together, were the equivalent of nearly $700 per man, woman and child in the country, according to the report by the Pew Center on the States.

But nearly double that number, some 35 states, cut higher education spending or increased tuition.

More than half of the states -- at least 26 -- slashed funding to prisons. Seven cut prison spending by more than 10 percent, and another seven closed prisons entirely.

Eighteen states this year asked over 830,000 employees to take furloughs or unpaid leave, Pew said, but tight budgets are also affecting residents, some of them the poorest.

In at least four states, patients enrolled in Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor jointly administered by the states and federal government, must pay more for care and, in at least eight states, patients have seen benefits cut.

Only seven states looked to gambling revenues to help make up for shortfalls that were first caused by the housing downturn, which cut into property taxes, but have grown due to the longest recession since last century's Great Depression.

"This was a year of fiscal reckoning for states of every size, in every region of the country," said Sue Urahn, managing director of the center, in a statement. "The challenges are far from over -- states will face even tougher choices in the next couple of years."

Even with plummeting revenues, at least 18 states took inspiration from the $787 billion federal economic stimulus plan to try to spend their way back to better days.

According to Pew, Colorado enacted one of the most ambitious stimulus plans that included $50 million for small business loans and job training.


Anonymous said...

Colorado is not taking care of budget cuts in the prisons. If Governor Ritter were serious about cutting the prisons budget, he would suggest the release of anyone within six month of his/her mandatory release date (MRD). My son is within 60 days of his MRD and is not on the list for early release while he knows of others who have a later MRD than he does who have been called to the case managers' offices and were told to get a release photo taken and to be measured for their release clothes. Why doesn't Colorado release all those inmates who are within 30 days of their MRD and eliminate MANDATORY parole. It makes sense to keep discretionary parole, but it is time to eliminate MANDATORY parole.

We have people who serve their full sentences in prison and who are then subject to an additional two, three, four, or five years of MANDATORY parole. It is a waste of money and it is cruel and unusual punishment to add additional years on to a completed sentence.

Marcia said...

I agree with Anonymous #1. By keeping those mandatory minumums and extended sentencings (parole), Colorado politicians and lawmakers are going to be facing far more difficult challenges in the near future. This will be the consequences of the "tough on crime" stupidity rather than the "SMART on crime" rationality. The disparity continues. For example: the governor and all district attorneys are fully aware of wrongful convictions and excessive sentencings yet turn a blind eye and deaf ears to genuine justice. A win is a win. To hell with public safety. Some judges refuse to accept responsibility for deceptive or ignorant actions in court due to arrogance and wishing to maintain the win even AFTER proof of innocence or evidence not presented at the original sentencing is presented. Of course, this keeps the level of incarcerations deceptively high. Criminal! It is coming back to haunt them in more ways than one.

There is evidence that employees of CDOC are vacating. Sadly, this state has seen nothing yet. The continuance of criminal and apathetic behavior in the law is jeopardizing far more than the economy. It wasn't until I was fully involved in how crooked the judicial system is that I became fully aware of how much toying with people's lives in court is more like a sport/win and far less about rehabilitation and reform. It's time to pay the piper.

Some will say Ritter is doing 'something' about the insane criminal justice mania in Colorado. Well, 'something' is not enough when the situation requires a tourniquet and only a bandage is offered.

Governor, CCJJ, sheriffs and prosecutors --- just how stupid is stupid?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Marcia. djw