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.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Let'em Go Governor

The Denver Post

Gov. Bill Ritter's plan to relieve Colorado's budget woes by releasing prisoners has reportedly met enthusiastic approval at the state penitentiary in Cañon City. Good citizens there have voluntarily agreed to forgo free room, board and police protection to help solve the state's fiscal crisis. Many of these prisoners are good people — just like you and me — but without the money to hire the best lawyers.

Prisoners have long been contributing members of society and deserve a break. At the correctional institute in Ordway they repair stage coaches and other antiques for the state and local museums. At the Jefferson County jail they maintain one of the state's finest rose gardens.

Knowing how helpful prisoners could be, Cañon City fought to get the state penitentiary in the first place. When it came to doling out state institutions, every ambitious, wide-awake town lined up to lobby for a state agency.

According to an old and persistent yarn, Denver grabbed the state Capitol and Pueblo the state mental hospital. Cañon City passed on the state university, teacher's college, school of mines and other institutions. Beating out Boulder, Golden and 10 other towns hungry for the honor, Cañon City captured the territorial prison in 1871.

Boulder, Golden and Greeley got stuck with the students and professors in an age when everyone knew that prisoners would make more useful residents. Students, generally speaking and off the record, spend their time drinking, carousing, corrupting the local youth, squandering their parents' hard-earned income and seducing local virgins. And I don't need to tell you about those nutty professor-types.

Prisoners, on the other hand, work hard. They even built much of their own Cañon City prison as well as the warden's and guards' houses. Prisoners could be rented out at 50 cents for 9 1/2 hours of day labor. As the scarred Dakota Sandstone hogback behind the penitentiary shows, inmates quarried stone and shaped it into highly sought after "prison stone."

An earlier version of Gov. Ritter's Get Out of Jail Free card came in 1899 when Colorado passed a law allowing sentences — even life sentences — to be shortened for good behavior while building roads.


Anonymous said...

I found this article very interesting. My son paroled to california with me; he violated parole just 4 months for being under the influence. He is currently serving his time for this offense in a county jail. After the parole hearing, Colorado has decided to go thru the high expense of sending him back to colorado for up to 180 days. Now does this sound like the state of colorado trying to save money and rehabilitate; absolutely not.. concerned mom

Anonymous said...

True, many of the inmates are not violent or ill meaning people but rather men and women who are unfortunately incarcerated in their own prison of the disease of alcoholism and addiction. I am grateful for the programs offered to inmates who seek them out. My son has been fighting wildfires for the state of Colorado at a minimal cost to the state this fire season. He is in the prison system as a result of the bad choices made due to a severe drug addiction and alcoholism. While sober he is a competent, smart, energetic and willing participant in the programs offered to him while incarcerated. The act of providing education in a career building venue while providing services to communities at a very low cost is a good start to rehabilitation and smart use of our prisoners. But there needs to be attention given to the causes that brought these men and women to this point to actually rehabilitate them and lower recidivism. We all wish the best for our loved ones incarcerated but until there are successful programs offered to actually deal with the problem that sent a great number of these inmates to prison, such as good AA meetings and sponsorship, we can only hope for their success once released. Let's save money by really addressing the underlying causes of the prisoner's unacceptable behaviors and lower recidivism for ever.

Anonymous said...

This article proves without a doubt, colorado DOC needs reforming and many policy changes.djw