The proof that Colorado officials seem to have been waiting for is in, and now it’s time to start improving lives, reducing crime and saving big, big bucks.
Last week, we stood behind efforts by the state to start releasing select prisoners early, as long as the state takes the time and resources to help these convicts get their lives back in order and get jobs one they’re back on the streets.
Clearly, just pushing untreated drug addicts, alcoholics and mentally ill people into the community six months earlier than projected will only get the half of them who always return to prison cells back behind bars about six months sooner. Under any circumstances, the deck is stacked against more than half of Colorado parolees. In this economy, where stand-up people with masters degrees are fighting for seasonal retail jobs, an ex-con with a penchant for booze and speed doesn’t have a prayer. Past studies have repeatedly shown that money invested in giving prisoners skills to stay off of drugs, deal with their mental illness and get a job, keeps these convicts out of jail.
Sadly, Colorado is cutting those programs, even as states like California are investing huge amounts of money in programs focusing on preparing soon-to-be-released prisoners for life in the real world.
Perhaps there simply hasn’t been enough local evidence to persuade Colorado lawmakers that such pitches are far from just liberal lip service. These programs save millions of taxpayer dollars in the near and short term, reduce the number of crime victims and improve the lives of convicts.
There’s plenty of evidence now.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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.
Thursday, September 10, 2009