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.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Colorado Aims To Reduce Number Of Hispanics Behind Bars

The Latin American Herald Tribune
DENVER – The recently formed Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice has joined with local Latino leaders to launch a plan aimed at reducing the disproportionate number of Hispanics in the state’s prisons.

Two CCJJ members – state legislator Claire Levy and Regina Huerter, director of Denver’s Crime Prevention and Control Commission – met Thursday with a group of Hispanic businesspeople, journalists and religious leaders to explain how the legal system in Colorado works and how it affects Latino inmates.

Colorado’s 47 jails and prisons house just over 23,000 inmates, 44 percent of whom are non-Hispanic whites, 32 percent Latinos and 20 percent African Americans, compared with 71 percent non-Latino whites, 20 percent Hispanics and 4.3 percent African Americans in the state’s overall population.

Hispanics also make up 42 percent of the almost 16,500 minors under judicial supervision in Colorado. Of them, 11,000 are in juvenile detention and 6,000 on juvenile probation, according to state Department of Public Safety figures.

The CCJJ, a 26-member panel of experts established to undertake a comprehensive analysis of Colorado’s criminal code, sentencing laws, prevention programs and other aspects of the criminal-justice system, was created due to the disproportionate number of Latino inmates behind bars.

The Commission, which will report annually to the Governor, legislature and the chief justice of the state Supreme Court, also was formed after two teenage boys – one of them Hispanic – committed suicide following transfers from juvenile detention facilities to adult prisons.

Levy and Huerter say Colorado is increasingly spending more money on jails and prisons even though the state’s crime rate continues to fall.

“The crime rate in Colorado is half of what it was in 1982, but the budget for the prison system has doubled since that time. (In 1982), the prison budget was 2.8 percent of the total state budget. Now it’s 8.6 (percent),” Levy, a Democrat who represents Boulder, Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties, told Efe.

Colorado currently earmarks $6.5 billion a year for the prison system, while the budget for education is $3.5 billion.

The legislator said that although the rate of growth of the prison population has slowed in Colorado, that state remains in the top 10 in terms of the highest percent annual increase in the number of inmates.

Having so many people in jail “starts to become something negative,” not only from the budgetary point of view, but also “from the (standpoint of) the goal of successfully reintegrating inmates into society,” Levy said.


Anonymous said...

I am sure those stats are not as accurate as they appear since those of us that are not white or black are automaticaly listed as hispanic in the department of corrections. During intake I listed myself as japanese and black they put me down as hispanic when I confronted them on the error I was told that everyone is listed as hispanic if not black or white. The truth of the matter is I am black and japanese and to list me as black would have been more appropriate but DOC insisted that I remain hispanic. I know as a fact that I am not the only inmate that this has happened to. while I do look hispanic I am not hispanic and made it a point to correct the error and was told it did not matter. My name is Susan Diggs#80472 take a look for yourselves you will see that I am still listed as hispanic.

Anonymous said...

The fact is that if more Hispanics committ crimes, the prison population should be more Hispanic.I spend a lot of time in the courts (due to my profession) and I do not see Hispanics singled out or treated more harshly. In fact, I have been in many, many alcohol education and recovery classes where white Americans often spend 2 hours a week for close to a year at $20-25 per class. I have seen very few Hispanics. I have NEVER seen a non-english speaking Hispanic in those classes and I have NEVER seen a class for non-english speaking citizens. Explain that one to me! I will not believe that non-english speaking Hispanics do not get DUIs, domestic charges, or drug charges. Why aren't they in class proportionate to the whites? I just don't buy that they are discriminated against in our judicial system.

Anonymous said...

Deport them!!!!!! If they come back and land back in prison, give them a life sentence. Surely that will be a deterrent to them either coming back or continuing to commit crimes in the US.

Anonymous said...

Let's give everyone a life sentence for anything at all. Wouldn't that be a deterrent, as well? How about the death penalty for shop-lifting? That would help Wal-mart keep its prices low!

Anonymous said...

All interesting comments but, wouldnt it be better to return our sentencing guidelines to what they were prior to 1982. That alone would cut our incarceration back to tolerable costs. Also be more just. Its not the length of the sentence that turns peoples life around, its about education, also starting inmates on rehab as soon as they hit prison.djw

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with returning back to the sentencing policies prior to 1982. Rehabilitation is also a positive thing and more cost efficient. I am also a strong advocate of education. Vocational as well as academic a simple class on etiquette and manners could be a huge stepping stone for a large number of offenders.