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 02, 2009

Solitary Just Became More So

The Denver Post

Isolation at the federal supermax in Florence is even more isolating now that the prison has canceled its subscription to The Denver Post.

Many readers will shrug off this news because, after all, the place is full of killers, spies, mob bosses and terrorists. Who cares if the Unabomber, Shoe Bomber and a 9/11 conspirator no longer have access to Colorado's statewide daily?

I do, and not just because I write for the paper.

ADX is the country's highest security federal prison. Its inmates live in solitary confinement, locked in their cells 23 hours a day. The remaining hour is slotted for exercise, alone, in 10-by-10-foot outdoor cages.

"A clean version of hell," is how its own warden once described it.

Don't get me wrong. I'm big on security, especially given that the feds are housing their scariest convicts here in Colorado.

Still, I'm bigger on transparency.

Officials strain to limit information about the 490-bed prison whose use of long-term solitary confinement is decried by human-rights groups worldwide. Journalists aren't allowed to visit or interview inmates. A government we know to be capable of other forms of torture tells us virtually nothing about how it's treating its prisoners here in our back yard.

That's why access to the paper matters


Anonymous said...

Isolation isnt security at all and violates our 8th amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. Our government is flawed. Our officials always are yelling at the chinese government for there supposed violation of human rights. I think we have a lot of the wrong people locked up all over our nation. I'm not referring to the murderers, rapists,and those really guilty of violent crime. Wouldnt it be really wonderful if we could restore constitutional law as it were written. djw

Anonymous said...

The inmates at Super Max are not your "boy next door" types. They are vicious criminals being punished for wrongs they have committed. What they have done to get there was almost always "cruel and unusal" treatment or "violation of human rights" against totally innocent victims. The only reason most of them are even alive (instead of being executed)is that we can no longer utilize the option of capital punishment (an eye for an eye). In this state, it almost never happens. I personally do not believe they should still have a lot of normal human rights.

Anonymous said...

Oh Jeez! Here we go. The above commentator (Anonymous) just doesn't get it. These guys are already under immense security. Who has the right to judge them so harshly as to deny them a few simple pleasures in life? In this case, it isn't a simple pleasure. Reading news from the Denver Post is educational.

It's a well known FACT that many of the incarcerated are innocent of the charges. How many? Who knows. Anyone who believes this system is 100% accurate is delusional. Some of these guys are scapegoats. Oh, yes. The U.S. government sets some people up for political purposes.

This is exactly how the 'system' wishes people to react; with self-righteous animosity for the accused and no questions regarding the mental status of the inmates or a review of the environment these people, guilty or innocent, must endure. That's the ticket. Let's bring back crucifixion and get 'em all.

Well over 2,000 years and little human evolvement. Compassion and truth denied to your brothers and sisters through idolatry for your 'leaders' and holier-than-thou judging. Is there a new commandment I don't know about? "Thou Shalt Judge."


Christ weeps.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who is locked in a cell for 23 hours per day is certainly being punished. Incarceration is all about punishment. There is no rehabilitation in our prison system. But, enough is enough. Let them at least read the newspaper, for God's sake.

You know the guards won't let them watch the news on the TV if they are locked down 23 hours per day.

Being locked down for 23 hours per day is enough punishment for anyone. We're not trying to drive them insane, are we?

Show some compassion for your fellow human beings.

Anonymous said...

Different subject:

Pre-release programs are not in place in many of our Colorado prisons. We'll keep our citizens locked up for years, and then finally release them with NO PRE-RELEASE counseling or "classes." What's up with that Ari?

Also, is it true that the educational classes are going to be eliminated?

Anonymous said...

Be careful of how harshly you judge!!! You never know when someone you love could be in this position!!! NEVER say NEVER!!!!!
It's a freakin' newspaper!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am now of the opinion that only the good among us are capable of being punished. Goodness embodies many qualities all directly related
to our conscience. We punish kids not because they are bad but because it is absolutely essential for them to learn to make finer and finer distinctions between right and wrong conduct.
Evil to me means there is a lack of or loss of conscience resulting
in psychopathic/sociopathic behaviors. From all accounts I've read, this condition cannot be "fixed"... Society has no real
alternative but to separate and isolate these unfortunate members who for whatever reason become lost to the human family... For the
continued well-being of our own consciences and in recognition of our common humanity, we are obligated to treat these individuals humanely. For the rest of the so many incarcerated, we
are further obligated to keep working on a system of laws and justice and punishments that allow
for redemption, reconciliation, and
rehabilitation-for the same reasons second chances and "do-evers" let children learn and mature.
Then once we are reasonably sure
offenders are reconciled to whatever mistakes were made,laws broken they must be welcomed back into the community and allowed to make a new beginning.
In the meantime it is our responsiilbity to insure punishments are carried out minus ignorant, self-righteous vindictiveness.
I am proud to count among my friends a current inmate and two ex-felons now out and courageously struggling to make a life for themselves in spite of current regressive attitudes and prejudices. They are the reasons
I am listening and taking an interest in prison reform.
I do not detect that any of us anonymouses so far are ex-felons. I hope one or more will see these comments and come forward with a simple, honest description of what
ordinary SOLITARY-"the hole" is really like. And list examples of
both humane and inhumane gestures/
treatment by prison staff...
How about a couple of related book
recommendations to ponder...
The Anatomy of Evil by Michael H. Stone,MD.
A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues by Andre Comte-Sponville.
The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn.
It is profoundly distressing to observe the people I've grown up with and presume to know eager to spend their "hard earned tax dollars" on more and bigger prisons to warehouse fellow Americans with psychological problems and the undereducated. And
nothing or only token sums on
cheaper, wiser and, in the end, far more effective alternatives...