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, September 09, 2009

Female Inmates

La Voz Colorado
For more than a generation it stood slightly off the beaten path, unrecognizable to most that caught a glimpse of it. With its sterile, institutional looks, unless one was really paying close attention, most travelers probably didn’t even realize that they had passed the Colorado Women’s Prison just off Highway 50 in Fremont County. Why would they? Unlike Territorial Prison, just a few miles down the road and a monument to what Hollywood might think an old prison should look like – rock-solid granite exterior, occupied guard towers, high fences complemented by yards and yards of concertina wire – the state’s women’s prison more closely resembled a construction afterthought. Now, the Colorado Women’s Prison is an afterthought. It closed, or decommissioned, in June 2009.

Opened in 1968 to house the state’s most hardcore female felons – 90, in all – the women’s prison was a haphazard cluster of buildings, including trailers for administrative offices or classrooms for the women doing time. But as with all prisons, men’s or women’s, the women’s facility hit a growth spurt that, by 2009, swelled its population to around 275. But in June of this year, it fell victim to a state budget stained scarlet with cash shortfalls, and was deemed a luxury. It was decommissioned and its inmates were dispersed to a private prison and two other facilities for women around the state. The state thinks its closing will save more than five million dollars.

When the state’s women’s prison opened, only a small number of its inmates were considered violent criminals. Most were there for things like writing bad checks, drug crimes and prostitution. By the time it was decommissioned, though, it had a number of inmates doing time for the most serious felonies, including murder.

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