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.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sentencing laws and prison costs - The Denver Post

Sentencing laws and prison costs - The Denver Post
Lowering penalties for marijuana possession and ramping up punishments for repeat drunken drivers are both promising ideas that ought to be considered as part of state sentencing reform.

We're glad to see the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice pursuing these changes. But before the ideas get too far along, it will be important to get a handle on the economic impact of such a restructuring.

Would the overhaul result in overflowing jails? Will counties have the resources to accommodate changes? Is there any way to realize some savings in prison expenses?

Prison cost reduction is one of the main reasons the commission was formed. As corrections eats up an increasing portion of the state's general fund, it is imperative to figure out a way to slow the growth.
The commission is set to finish its work by the end of December, and then it will forward suggestions to the governor. Ultimately, restructuring sentencing laws will fall to legislators, who convene in January.
State lawmakers need to quickly get their arms around the financial implications of sentencing reform because anything with a significant price tag is going to be a waste of their time given the budget situation. Ideally, they'd realize savings.

The last sentencing reform bill, introduced in the waning days of the last legislative session, was shelved in part because no one knew how it would affect the budget.

The measure, sponsored by state Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, offered some good ideas with its reduction in sentencing ranges for non-violent, property and some drug crimes.

It seems like the commission, which most recently met last week, is considering some of the same directions.
Commission members voted to recommend dialing back penalties for marijuana possession. Those caught with up to 4 ounces of marijuana would face a petty offense instead of a criminal misdemeanor. Possession of 8 to 16 ounces would become a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Those changes are in keeping with trends around the state as voters have been taking a more lenient view about marijuana use.


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Anonymous said...

To save money why are these people not considering doing away with mandatory parole which is a double sentence and unconstitutional by law. This alone would save millions of dollars and do away with a lot of DOC workers. djw

Anonymous said...

Is anyone worried that lowering the pot penalties will send the wrong message to our children? Or are we depending on the parents who smoke pot in small quantities to tell their kids it's ok, or not ok? Are parents who let their underage kids drink at home "because it's safer" going to allow those same teenagers to smoke pot? (I don't get it)

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I think that is not all you don't get. Those same kids are probably smoking it whether their parents are or not. And, just what "wrong" message is it you think will be sent to the kids? Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. What do you tell kids about alcohol consumption?

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the reality is that nothing will get done. This same committee from the Governor, which is a re-creation of another committee from a past governor, is the legislative way of ducking the subject. There were 65 recommendations made last year by the CCJC and the legislature refused to consider them. At the last minute, this bill was brought up by people who wanted at least a small change, and, by golly, it got sent on to the SAME governor's committee. mpc