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, November 11, 2009

Healing a Broken System: Veterans Battling Addiction and Incarceration

click here for the Drug Policy Report pdf.
Thousands of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are returning with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury(TBI), and other illnesses and injuries that often contribute to substance abuse and addiction, fatal overdose, homelessness, and suicide.The current generation of veterans joins the large population of Vietnam-era veterans who have struggled with the same problems for decades.

Left untreated, these underlying medical conditions also contribute to violations of the law, especially nonviolent drug offenses.

Indeed, in 2004 roughly 140,000 veterans were in U.S. state and federal prisons, with tens of thousands more in county jails. Research shows that the single greatest predictive factor for the incarceration of veterans is substance abuse. As more veterans return from longer and repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan,
the number of incarcerated veterans is likely to increase significantly.

Incarcerated veterans with PTSD report more serious legal problems, higher lifetime use of alcohol and other drugs, and poorer overall health than those without PTSD.Existing literature strongly indicates that
“incarcerated veterans may face a level of suicide risk that exceeds that attributable to either
veteran status or incarceration alone.”

Moreover, incarcerated veterans are highly vulnerable to death by overdose after release if they do not receive effective treatment. Veterans who are convicted of criminal offenses, particularly drug felonies, or those who have drug use histories, and their families, face a wide range of punitive policies that limit their access to social services necessary for their reentry to civilian life.

No comments: