The Denver Post
We are overseeing a measured two-year pilot program to accelerate the transition of certain eligible prison inmates to parole.
The first transitions are just now underway, but pronouncements of failure have already begun. On Oct. 18, The Denver Post editorialized about the pilot program's "problems" and "limited potential."
We strongly support this program and are fully dedicated to keeping public safety as our first priority. While fewer inmates or parolees may take part, and while we may not save taxpayers as much as initially estimated, this program allows us to modernize and improve the corrections system and achieve fiscal savings during these difficult times.
With 23,000 prison inmates and 12,000 parolees under our supervision, Colorado now spends more on corrections than it does educating approximately 220,000 college students. No matter how you analyze those numbers, this is an unsustainable set of circumstances.
Since Gov. Bill Ritter took office in 2007, he has made reducing Colorado's chronically high recidivism rate a cornerstone of his administration. These initiatives have helped slow the rate of growth in our prison population. Based on evidence rooted in research and supported by many in the criminal justice and law enforcement community, the accelerated transition pilot program is a logical step forward for Colorado's anti-recidivism initiatives.
The only inmates who will qualify are those getting out within 180 days anyway. The first group of inmates to qualify were released an average of 70 days early. And they are being released early into parole programs that will include enhanced supervision and monitoring and more intensive job-training, housing and substance-abuse services to help increase their likelihood of success.
The Parole Board has established very clear and rigorous review standards to determine which inmates will and will not be considered for an accelerated transition, utilizing three assessment tools and numerous criteria. Inmates likely to qualify are those most likely to succeed because of strong family support and a commitment to remain sober, and who are prepared for employment.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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, November 01, 2009
The Denver Post