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

Recidivism Program Is A Wise Investment

The Denver Post

The cost of housing inmates in Colorado's already over- crowded prison system continues to escalate, and during these unsteady economic times, money isn't available to build new prisons.

That's one of the reasons we have supported Gov. Bill Ritter's efforts to fund programs that strive to reduce the rate of recidivism. Simply put, it makes sense for the community, both financially and in terms of safety.

One program that provides free medications to mentally ill prisoners who have been released to halfway houses and other community correction facilities appears to be working quite well, and we would urge the legislature to continue funding it despite the state's bleak budget outlook.

The medications help stabilize moods and reduce anxiety and other symptoms of mental illness, and allow a majority of the program participants to transition into society and hold down jobs. Data from the pilot program shows psychotropic medications — estimated by the governor's office to cost $238 per offender per year — dramatically affected the behavior of the participants.

Before the program was instituted, 56 percent of offenders sent to community corrections facilities were returned to prison. In the first two years of the drug program, only 3 percent of offenders who received medications at correctional facilities violated rules or committed crimes that sent them back to prison. The numbers are even more noteworthy because research shows inmates typically re-offend within the first few weeks or months after their release.

Because of the apparent success of the anti-recidivism initiative, Gov. Ritter has expanded funding to include as many as 488 eligible parolees who will be released early as part of the state's budget-cutting measures.

We applaud the governor's efforts to fund these prevention programs, especially during this economic downturn when the state budget must be trimmed by $320 million.

It's a small price to pay now for potentially enormous savings later.


Anonymous said...

I hear a lot of jabber-jawing about Governor Ritter's plans for reducing recividism, but I don't see them in action. Even the free medications program mentioned above must be for a select few, as it definitely does not cover all inmates released to halfway houses. This is propoganda. Give me some solid facts about "Governor Ritter's plans to reduce recidivism". In my opinion, it is all smoke amd mirrors, but no solid actions. Check it out!

Anonymous said...

Not only do Gov Ritter's policies and actions not aide in reducing recidivism, his current proposals are to limit or eliminate many programs that rehabilitate criminals while in prison and reduce the re-entry assistance programs that help prepare the inmates for a positive and fruitful transition out of prison and back into society as successful citizens. These reductions include job training programs as well as drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs and transitional skills training (by this, I mean teaching them how to job hunt, how to pay bills, how to budget money, things average people learn through experience in the outside world, but inmates do not). Do these plans sound like Gov Ritter is trying to reduce our recidivism rates? Not!!!

Anonymous said...

These programs may happen in some prisons and jails but very few in Colorado, I research alot/ Also, most of the people who end up back are not new crimes but the inability to pay for the expenses of classes, fines, restitution, back child support, etc. Do some research. And average people, who are they? RESEARCH!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous number 2 is right. The real problem of recidivism is caused by the DOC itself thru there transition back to society and the mandatory parole. Those peoples job is to get the inmate sent back to prison thru rules violations. The real facts support what i have stated. djw