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.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ritter's Budget A Credible Plan

The Denver Post

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter on Tuesday unveiled an array of painful state budget cuts to shore up a $318 million gap in this year's budget.

Some of the cuts, such as the early release of some prisoners, are risky and will be roundly criticized.

Even though all of the implications from the cuts aren't yet known, we think the governor has presented a credible plan under difficult circumstances.

Unfortunately, the pain could be felt by some of our most vulnerable citizens as the state cuts Medicaid payments to doctors and hospitals.

State government also will shed 267 jobs and slash funding to higher education by nearly $81 million. That money, however, will be backfilled at least for this year by federal stimulus money. But next year, higher ed will feel the pain, too.

But perhaps most controversially, about 2,600 criminals will be either let out of prison up to six months early or see their parole supervision time cut after showing good behavior.

The corrections reductions, sobering to contemplate, are expected to save nearly $19 million.

The risks are obvious. What if one of them does something horrible shortly after being released from prison or parole?

You can bet the governor's political opponents are sharpening their knives in anticipation of criticizing him for this move.

But reducing prison costs is a fiscal necessity. There just isn't much else to cut in the state budget beyond education and social services.

Other states have found themselves in the same budgetary corner, and have made a variety of cuts to prisons.

Ritter, a longtime prosecutor, clearly had thought very carefully about the issue and presented a well-reasoned plan.

The former Denver district attorney wouldn't have agreed to it if he didn't think it would work, or if he had other options.

The state parole board now will consider for release certain prisoners who have served long enough to be eligible for parole and are within six months of mandatory release.

These prisoners won't be sex offenders, murderers or kidnappers. The governor characterized them as drug offenders, burglars and the like. The parole board will consider release on a case-by-case basis and will have the final say on who is let out early.

Those who are released will get closer supervision. The governor proposes paying for it by getting people off of parole sooner if they have served more than half of their term. Research suggests that if someone is going to violate their parole, they do it early.


Anonymous said...

DOC can only cut costs
1 closing a State facility,
2 stop sending people to private facilities or
3 cutting the number of DOC staff.
Just releasing people early has little effect on the operational costs of the DOC budget-not $25,000,000. The proposals are just "smoke and mirrors" even before "the parole board making the final decision."

Anonymous said...

You are wrong...each prisoner is very expensive and the system of payola for "Drug treatment/monitoring" and "anger management" and other courses the inmate/parolee and citizens pay for is realy quite useless and ineffective. Truth is these programs exist to pay a certian few for doing essentially nothing of value and costing everyone else, way too much.It's a form of system slavery that causes those who want to make it to give up and return to the system so those who benifit can enlarge thier administative kingdom, importance and salary.