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.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From Canon To Maui

It sounds like a tidy piece of inspirational fiction: A coke-snorting, booze-guzzling dropout squanders every opportunity in life, turns to armed robbery, burglary and sleazy telemarketing scams, spends much of his adult life behind bars as a self-proclaimed "worthless piece of shit" -- then discovers the secrets of better living from self-help gurus, totally reforms, emerges from prison in time to salvage a relationship with his young son, and builds a multimillion-dollar company from scratch in just four years.

But Weldon Long's just-published The Upside of Fear: How One Man Broke the Cycle of Prison, Poverty and Addiction (Greenleaf Book Group Press) is actually a memoir. And a surprisingly readable one at that. It won an award for best autobiography at the New York Book Festival and has launched Long, who spent much of his time from 1987 to 2003 in Colorado prisons, as a motivational speaker in his own right.

An Arkansas native, Long was just 23 when he and a man he'd just met came up with the brilliant idea of robbing two men in a restaurant parking lot in Colorado Springs, using a shotgun Long had been trying to pawn earlier that day. They were soon caught -- and Long was on the first of several trips to CaƱon City. When paroled, he soon fell back to drinking and drugging and heists. A boiler-room telemarketing operation eventually landed him in federal prison, down the road in Florence, with more state charges pending.

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