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 16, 2009

Governor's Prison Plan Blasted

The Denver Daily News

An undetermined number of Coloradans will be victimized if Gov. Bill Ritter follows through with his budget-cutting measure that would make select prisoners eligible for early release, according to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.

Meanwhile, Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said he couldn’t disagree more with Suthers’ claim, adding that the governor spent 25 years as a district attorney putting criminals behind bars and is “not going to do anything that jeopardizes public safety.”

Early release

Ritter last month proposed cutting $18.9 million from the state budget by increasing the number of prisoners who are eligible for early release. The plan, which would nibble into the $320 million budget gap the state is facing, would also free select parolees from parole ahead of schedule.

Suthers yesterday slammed the early release idea, saying that public safety should be the “first and foremost obligation of government.”

“Governor Ritter faces an extremely difficult task in balancing the state budget in the midst of this economic recession, and I understand the budget reductions he announced involve very difficult choices,” he said in a statement. “However, as the state’s chief law enforcement officer, I am concerned that the acceleration of mandatory parole for offenders who have not earned discretionary release will seriously compromise public safety.”


But Dreyer and Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti say the early release initiative was based on recommendations made by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, a bipartisan committee comprised of people across the Colorado criminal justice system. The measure also has the support of the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police.

Ex-prisoners must have successfully been on parole for a minimum of six months, or half their parole sentence, to qualify for the expedited process. Additionally, the parolees must have met their parole goals and be free of write-ups for at least six months.

The prisoners who would be eligible for early parole must be within six months of being released from prison. And with some of the savings gained from releasing some people from parole, the state could afford enhanced services like GPS monitoring and psychotropic medications, if needed, for the newly paroled, according to Sanguinetti. A parole board would have the final say on whether the convicts could get off early.

“This is a very thoughtful, a very modest reform to the criminal justice system,” said Dreyer. “It is innovative and it is cost effective.”

Partisan fight

Leading Colorado Republicans jumped on Ritter yesterday over the early release proposal. State House GOP leader Mike May said the budget should not be balanced at the expense of public safety, and State Senate GOP leader Josh Penry added that the initiative should be pulled off the table immediately.

“The governor’s plan to release violent prisoners early is ill-conceived and reckless,” Penry said in a statement. “There’s no way to dress this one up.”

Dreyer blasted back against May and Penry, saying they were given multiple opportunities to help balance the budget but refused so they could “stand on the sidelines and criticize each and every budget balancing action.”

“They should be ashamed of themselves for playing politics with the recession and with the efforts to keep this state’s budget balanced,” he said.


Anonymous said...

May and Penry are a couple of Idiots when it comes to public safety. People locked up for non violent offenses are not any threat to public safety. Thats over 50 percent of all those incarcerated in Colorado.
I ask May and Penry, why dont you lock up really dangerous people like, prison guards who rape the inmates, DA's who file false charges against people, JiTS udges who give severe sentence to non violent offenders and also coierce defendents into signing plea bargains brought into court by DA's filing false charges, cops and inspectors who lie and make false statements on police reports.
If Penry would listen, Ritter said he didnt want to release violent offenders early, just NON-VIOLENT OFFENDERS.
Governor Ritter is right in tune with what has to be done. I say cut off May and Penrys state pay, they sure are not in tune with the mood of the majority.djw

Anonymous said...

6 MONTHS! We're talking about a measly 6 flippin months. These guys are eligible for a parole a whole 6 months earlier than what they would ALREADY be under normal circumstances. John Suthers is the epotime of what's wrong with America's broken and inhumae criminal injustice system. His crimes deserve life, notwithstanding his immense and vast stupidity. The saddest part though is that many people are just as stupid and lame and self-centered as he is and will ultimately fall rather easily for this 'level' of fear mongering. John Suthers theatens public safety. John Suthers is culpable. John Suthers should be made to pay.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone, please, answer my question? I am on parole, and I have a student loan that went into default because of my being incarcerated for ten years and missing a deferrment deadline. The collection agents have come to the parole office, but I am still unable to pay, as I only make minimum wage. Can they really revoke my parole if I don't pay?

Anonymous said...

A Colorado Department of Corrections parole officer was arrested today on suspicion of sexual assault, Colorado Springs police said.

Richard L. Riley, 45, turned himself in at the police operations center.

Police said they had been investigating Riley for two months, but would not release details of the accusations against him.

Rilery has been a Senior Community Parole Officer for the DOC since 1998.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #3: You can get lots of information by registering at: http://www.prisontalk.com/forums

It is very private and there are lots of people who will answer any and all questions you have. They are very helpful.

Once you reach the (above) site, scroll down to the state where you are paroled and post your question there using your chosen PTO name.

Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Regarding the above suggestion: Thanks! I really appreciate the advice, and I will give that site a try!

Barney said...

FOOLS' RODS LIKE FOOLS' FACES ALWAYS APPEAR IN PUBLIC PLACES!!!!May, Penry, Suther, and McInnis are politicians looking to gain votes in upcoming elections (I believe they are all Republican, if it matters). Personally, I would not waste my vote on uniformed, uneducated idiots. They have not done their homework. What statistics do any of them have to support their claims regarding the threat to public safety of these early releases? I have never read a report (statistical) that supports any of their wreckless claims. In fact, there was a report on this very site not long back about early releases from facilities in Minn or Mi which showed no increase in crime rates in the area.
On the flip side, (by the way I am all for the early releases and elimination of mandatory parole), however...the math in the savings catagory on all of this is wrong. If an inmate costs tax payers $25,000 to house per year, releasing someone a few weeks (or days) early is not going to save taxpayers $25,000. In fact, it won't save $12,500 per inmate (half a year). That would only be the case if they are released the full 6 months early. As it is, there is no way that releasing 1000 inmates early is going to save $25,000,000 or even the $19,500,000 they are predicting. So, in this sense, both sides are wrong.