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.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Editorial- Judges Sentenced

This is just bad
The setting is Pennsylvania coal country, but it's a story right out of Dickens' grim 19th-century landscape: Two of Luzerne County's most senior judges on Monday were accused of sending children to jail in return for kickbacks.

The judges, Luzerne County President Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., 58, and his predecessor, Senior Judge Michael T. Conahan, 56, will serve seven years in jail under a plea agreement.

They're alleged to have pocketed $2.6 million in payments from juvenile detention center operators.

When a federal judge reviews their plea, though, the question ought to be whether the punishment is adequate - along with the judges being bounced from the bench, disbarred, and losing their pensions.

If the allegations are true, Ciavarella and Conahan were involved in a disgraceful cabal far worse than one that merely lined their pockets.

First, the judges helped the detention centers land a county contract worth $58 million. Then their alleged scheme was to guarantee the operators a steady income by detaining juveniles, often on petty stuff.

Many of the kids were railroaded, according to allegations lodged with the state Supreme Court last year by the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center, an advocacy group.

In asking the court to intervene in April, the law center cited hundreds of examples where teens accused of minor mischief were pressured to waive their right to lawyers, and then shipped to a detention center.

One teen was given a 90-day sentence for having parodied a school administrator online. Such unwarranted detentions left "both children and parents feeling bewildered, violated and traumatized," center lawyers said.

Corrections and Straining Budgets

Drug War Chronicle

If there are any silver linings in the current economic, fiscal, and budgetary disaster that afflicts the US, one of them could be that the budget crunch at statehouses around the country means that even formerly sacrosanct programs are on the chopping block. With drug offenders filling approximately 20-25% of prison cells in any given state, prison budgets are now under intense scrutiny, creating opportunities to advance sentencing, prison, and drug law reform in one fell swoop.

Nationwide, corrections spending ranks fourth in eating up state budget dollars, trailing only health care, education, and transportation. According to the National Association of State Budget Officers, five states -- Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Oregon and Vermont -- spend more on prisons they than do on schools.

The US currently spends about $68 billion a year on corrections, mostly at the state level. Even at a time when people are talking about trillion dollar bail-outs, that's a lot of money. And with states from California to the Carolinas facing severe budget squeezes, even "law and order" legislators and executive branch officials are eyeing their expensive state prison systems in an increasingly desperate search to cut costs.

"If you look at the amount of money spent on corrections in the states, it's an enormous amount," said Lawanda Johnson of the Justice Policy Institute. "If they could reduce prison spending, that would definitely have an impact on their state budgets. Now, a few states are starting to look at their jail and prison populations," she said.

Among them:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bill Targets Death Penalty

The Denver Post

There are many questions that Charles Alvin Johnson may never see answered about the death of his daughter Regina, who was strangled in 2006.

What raced through her head as she lay bound, realizing she would die? How could a 110-pound woman have provoked such rage?

Who killed her?

"I'd like to know what kind of animal we're dealing with," said Johnson, 63, of Denver. "We find the guy, we convict the guy and we put him away for life. That suffering part would bring me happiness."

Johnson and more than 500 others who have lost friends and family to unsolved murders are pushing a plan to end Colorado's death penalty and spend the savings to investigate the state's more than 1,300 cold cases.

The bill, which House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, said he plans to introduce next week, has already sparked opposition from the state's top prosecutors and promises to prompt a political firefight. It threatens to put Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter, a former district attorney and a devout Catholic, in tricky territory as well.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time For Sentencing Reform

Aurora Sentinel Opinion
Here’s your chance, Colorado, to make a real and long-lasting impact on reducing state spending and government waste.

Gov. Bill Ritter yesterday released his latest proposed budget cuts, a map to carving almost $1 billion out of state services. The move is needed as the economy unwinds and tax receipts diminish.

Many of the proposed cuts will be immediately painful, especially those affecting higher education and social services. Those reductions come at time when need will be at its greatest.

But cutting millions from the budget by closing two state prisons offers a unique opportunity.

It isn’t as if closing a prison in Rifle and another in Cañon City will mean hundreds of dangerous criminals are going to be let loose. Instead, they’ll simply be packed tighter in other prisons, making those facilities more dangerous, and making the likelihood that inmates are rehabilitated even less likely.

Instead, this is an opportunity for Colorado to become more realistic and practical with how it handles criminal sentencing, especially when it comes to drug-related crimes.

CWCF And Medical CMHIP To Close

Pueblo Chieftain

DENVER - Gov. Bill Ritter plans to close Colorado Women's Correctional Facility in Canon City and the medical clinic at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, but they're only a small part of several budget cuts designed to reduce a $1 billion short- fall.

Still, officials within the departments of Corrections and Human Services are hoping that doesn't mean anyone will lose their jobs.

Todd Saliman, Gov. Bill Ritter's budget director, outlined $696.2 million in closures and program cuts, and about $127 million in other "reduced obligations."

Along with those two closures, Saliman is proposing: Eliminating for three years the homestead exemption that seniors receive on their property taxes, saving about $292 million over that time.

Keeping vacant or eliminating more than 540 full-time state government position.

Imposing five unpaid furlough days on most state workers, saving about $15 million.

Reduce funding for K-12, primarily in full-day kindergarten programs, saving about $18 million.

Lower higher education funding by $100 million.

Withhold salary increases for 26,000 state workers, saving more than $63 million.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Inmate Moves and Double Bunking

Rocky Mountain News
....we actually have hundreds of beds open statewide. If we are going to fund recidivism reduction for long term cost savings...this is one way we can do it.

The Colorado Department of Corrections would close two prisons and sell 1,000 acres of land as part of the state's efforts to eliminate a looming budget shortfall.

The two prisons slated for closure are the Colorado Womens' Correctional Facility (CWCF) in Canon City and the Rifle Correctional Center (RCC) in Rifle.

CWCF has about 200 inmates, many of whom will move to the La Vista Correctional Facility in Pueblo, said DOC spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti. La Vista is currently under capacity.

The remaining female offenders will go to the Denver Womens' Correctional Facility, where officials plan to "double bunk" 76 beds. The facility already does some double bunking.

"It hasn't really been an issue at this point. We'll just double bunk a few more," Sanguinetti said.

About 23,000 inmates are housed in Colorado's 23 state prisons and six private facilities monitored by DOC.

The agency's budget this fiscal year is $761 million.

Closing CWCF will save more than $5.2 million in fiscal year 2009-10. That cost savings includes personal services and benefits as well as operating expenditures, according to prison officials.

Closing the RCC, which has 192 beds, will save an estimated $606,021 in operating expenses, plus the state would receive revenue from the sale of the property.

Who Are The Homeless? Annual Survey to Find Out

Rocky Mountain News

Even on these sub-zero mornings, Sharon finds homeless men sleeping on the frozen sidewalk when she opens the doors a 5 a.m. at a Lakewood day-labor center.

"Some of them are just trembling," said Sharon, a staffer at Labor Finders, who declined to give her last name because she's not authorized to speak to reporters.

"During the last big snow storm, there was an older man and the guys had to help him come in, because he was so stiff from the cold," she said.

Today, a couple dozen men, many living on the streets during these bone-chilling nights, were huddling inside the storefront, sipping coffee to warm up.

They were also filling out the four-page form for the eighth Metro Denver Homeless Point-in-Time Survey.

About 175 volunteers are fanning out across the seven-county region today to interview homeless individuals and families sleeping in shelters and cheap motels, under bridges and in Dumpsters.

The survey is required to obtain nearly $15 million in federal emergency housing funding. It also helps officials learn who comprises the current homeless population, why people lost their homes and how cities can best serve their needs.

Prison Closures And Education Cuts For Colorado

Rocky Mountain News

Colorado must close prisons, slice roughly $225 million from schools and higher education and suspend property-tax breaks for senior citizens to close its funding shortfall, Gov. Bill Ritter's budget director said Tuesday.

The proposals are part of approximately $823 million in personnel and service cuts Ritter proposed for the budget year beginning on July 1. The governor also hopes to take some $264 million out of earmarked funds to keep government services running, Office of State Planning and Budgeting Director Todd Saliman told the Joint Budget Committee.

Sales and income tax revenues, which are dropping sharply this recession, were forecast last month to be roughly $1 billion short of the expenditures Ritter proposed for fiscal year 2009-10. Saliman earlier this month announced about $201 million in cuts to be made over the next six months but warned then that reductions for the next year are going to be much worse.

Those proposed reductions include closure of the Rifle Correctional Facility and the Colorado Women's Correctional Facility in Canon City, as well as a delay in the opening of a new maximum-security prison in Fremont County. They include cuts of about $125 million to K-12 education and $100 million to higher education and the three-year suspension of the Homestead Tax Exemption for seniors and disabled veterans who have owned their homes for 10 years.

Reactions to the cuts varied.

Environment Colorado legislative director Pam Kiely praised Ritter for not cutting air- and water-quality programs deeply.

Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition Executive Director Christie Donner suggested the prison closings are not crippling because the state has enough open beds in private and public prisons to house all of the inmates.

But Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, said the final decisions on the cuts will be very difficult to make.

"I am very aware of the deep and lasting impact this will have on Coloradans," Tapia said.

The White House and Drug Policy

Drug War Chronicle

The incoming Obama administration has posted its agenda online at the White House web site Whitehouse.gov. While neither drug policy nor criminal justice merited its own category in the Obama agenda, several of the broad categories listed do contain references to drug and crime policy and provide a strong indication of the administration's proclivities.

But before getting into what the agenda mentions, it's worth noting what the agenda does not mention: marijuana. There is not a word about the nation's most widely used illicit drug or the nearly 900,000 arrests a year generated by marijuana prohibition. Nor, despite Obama campaign pledges, is there a word about medical marijuana or ending the DEA raids on providers in California -- which doesn't necessarily mean he will go back on his word. It could well be that the issue is seen as too marginal to be included in the broad agenda for national change. With the first raid on a medical marijuana clinic during the Obama administration hitting this very week, reformers are anxiously hoping it is only the work of Bush holdovers and not a signal about the future.

Reformers may find themselves pleased with some Obama positions, but they will be less happy with others. The Obama administration wants to reduce inequities in the criminal justice system, but it also taking thoroughly conventional positions on other drug policy issues.

But let's let them speak for themselves. Here are the relevant sections of the Obama agenda:

Under Civil Rights:

  • End Racial Profiling: President Obama and Vice President Biden will ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.
  • Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support: President Obama and Vice President Biden will provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society. Obama and Biden will also create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.
  • Eliminate Sentencing Disparities: President Obama and Vice President Biden believe the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated.
  • Expand Use of Drug Courts: President Obama and Vice President Biden will give first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior.
  • Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.

Fix Broken Windows Policing

REMINDER ACTION ALERT - Fix Broken Policing - Black and Brown Coalition Citizen Oversight Board Meeting - Televised Live on Channel 8

DATE: Thursday, January 29, 2009 TIME: 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
LOCATION: Police District 6- La Alma/Lincoln Park Recreation Center 1325 W. 11th Ave., Denver, CO 80204

We need to have an active presence at the next Citizen Oversight Board (COB) meeting. This is supposed to be the board that was implemented as one of the improvements for police accountability after 15-year-old Paul Childs was shot to death in his doorway by a Denver Police officer. The COB is supposed to be monitoring the Office of the Independent Monitor's Office which monitors the Denver Police Department. We will be demanding to know why the COB has not taken any action on our concerns regarding racial profiling, the lack of police accountability, and why they have such a
cosy relationship with the police department. Please join the FBP Black and Brown Coalition in demanding accountability from the COB and the Denver Police Department. For more information, please contact INCITE! Denver at info4incitedenver@gmail.com or call Art Way at the Colorado Progressive Coalition at 303-866-0908

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Owens Bill Comes Due On Ritter's Watch

Colorado Statesman

On one side are piles of rock for more prison construction. On the other side is a possible Colorado budget shortfall of $600 million-plus for the rest of fiscal year 2008-’09.

Hmm, $600 million. Where have we read that number before?

Oh, yes. The final budget of Gov. Bill Owens’ Department of Corrections. In the July 1, 2006 fiscal year, the Corrections budget was $647 million. That was a 48 percent increase over the $437 million budget Owens proposed for th e Corrections Department on July 1, 1999, as researched by a Joint Budget Committee staffer.

Prison construction doesn’t begin when a new governor takes an oath of office. Construction and use blends over past, present and future administrations. When Owens left office, Corrections had about 22 state prisons to manage and six private corrections facilities to oversee. The state can save millions of dollars by delaying opening a new prison this fiscal year or in

Gov. Roy Romer handed Owens a prison population of 14,312. Owens averaged a prisoner-population increase of 1,000 for each year of his tenure, with the population reaching 22,481 by Dec. 31, 2006 — a 57
percent hike.

During the last year of the Romer administration, Colorado’s prison population ranked 25th in the nation.

Under Owens, the population continued its steady increase, and Colorado stayed at No. 25 during his first term. I wrote columns defending the fact that Colorado was just “going with the flow.”

But the increases during Owens’ second term left Gov. Bill Ritter a state that was 23rd in prison population. Even though Ritter’s prison population increase in 2007 was minimal (360) it was enough to move Colorado up to 22nd highest nationally in state prison population.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Gitmo To Supermax?

Colorado Independent

Politicians in Colorado are split over the chance detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could be imprisoned at the Supermax federal detention facility in Florence. Some say Supermax can handle Gitmo suspects just fine, others warn it’s too dangerous. But the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado said in a statement to the Colorado Independent Friday afternoon that moving Gitmo detainees — including many only suspected of crimes — to the country’s most secure prison “is simply another form of torture, one which makes a mockery of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ ”

While the Obama administration’s plans to shut down Gitmo earn the group’s applause, ACLU of Colorado executive director Cathryn Hazouri says the conditions at Supermax won’t be an improvement for terror suspects. Noting that several Gitmo detainees have been released after the Bush administration admitted it couldn’t prove guilt, Hazouri questions whether a move to the tiny cells at Supermax, where most inmates are kept in solitary confinement 23 hours a day, is fair treatment for suspects awaiting trial.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ritter Stops Construction On New DOC Headquarters

Rocky Mountain News

Gov. Bill Ritter has placed on hold construction of a new Department of Corrections headquarters in Colorado Springs, citing the state's budget shortfall.

The new building was to be built near the existing 65,000-square-foot Corrections Department headquarters, making the agency a principal tenant of the proposed Vineyard Commerce Park office complex.

Mortenson Development Inc. of Minneapolis is developing the complex on Janitell Road; company spokesman Mark Alexander did not immediately return an after-hours call seeking comment Thursday.

The state's 30-year, lease-to-own deal on the new 100,000-square-foot building would have been worth about $90 million.

However, Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said Thursday that the new headquarters has been "indefinitely halted."

Obama Signs Gitmo Closure Order

the Denver Post

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama put his own clear stamp on U.S. national security policy today, ordering Guantanamo prison camp closed within a year, naming new envoys to the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan and welcoming Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to help forge new global strategies.

"We intend to win this fight, we are going to win it on our terms," Obama said of pursuing the campaign against global terrorism.

On his second full day in office, Obama took a series of steps overturning some of his predecessor's most contentious war-on-terrorism policies.

By ordering shut the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, closing any remaining CIA secret prisons overseas and banning harsh interrogation....

Fingerprints Didn't Belong To Tim Masters

Rocky Mountain News

The lead detective in a botched Fort Collins murder investigation has acknowledged that police knew about evidence that pointed away from the man who was convicted but later exonerated.

In documents filed this week in U.S. District Court, police Lt. James Broderick said hair, clothing of the victim and fingerprints found on her purse didn't belong to Tim Masters.

Masters was convicted of murder in the 1987 death of Peggy Hettrick and served 10 years in prison before he was cleared by advanced DNA testing. Hettrick's slaying remains unsolved.

Broderick denied allegations in a lawsuit filed by Masters that prosecutors or investigators destroyed the evidence.

"Mr. Broderick admits workable latent fingerprints were found in Hettrick's purse that were not plaintiff's," said the document filed in response to Masters' lawsuit, which claims the physical evidence did not belong to either Hettrick or Masters. "Mr. Broderick admits the hair (on her clothing) could not be determined to have come from plaintiff."

Broderick's response was one of five filed since Friday in Masters' lawsuit, which claims prosecutors and investigators ignored, withheld or destroyed evidence that pointed to his innocence.

"I was surprised that they admitted that much," said Masters' attorney, David Lane. "We always believed that that was true."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ft. Collins Wants Master's Case Dropped

Of course they do.
Fort Collins Coloradoan
TrevorHughes @coloradoan.com

The city of Fort Collins on Tuesday formally asked a federal judge to dismiss a civil rights lawsuit filed by Timothy Masters, arguing that he "was provided with due process of law in every respect" to his prosecution for murder.

The city rejected Masters' claims of unfair, malicious prosecution. Responding on behalf of the police, city lawyers said Masters' suit should be thrown out, and he should be forced to pay the city's legal costs.

"Plaintiff was provided with due process of law in every respect in regard to his prosecution and conviction," city attorneys wrote in the 37-page response filed Tuesday.

"In all respects the defendants behaved in accordance with applicable legal authority in all actions associated with the plaintiff, negating any claim of liability asserted by the plaintiff against them."

A jury in 1999 convicted Masters of killing Peggy Hettrick in a Fort Collins field February 1987. His conviction was then upheld by the state's two highest courts.

But a year ago Thursday, a special judge overturned Masters' conviction on the grounds that newly discovered DNA evidence pointed toward another suspect initially cleared by police.

Masters said he's not surprised by the city's decision to seek to have the lawsuit thrown out.

"It's what I would do," he said.

He added: "Right now, it looks like they'll spend millions to not give me one."

Masters last fall sued the city police and prosecutors who presented the case against him, arguing that they conspired to convict him by withholding evidence and taking other steps to prevent him from getting a fair trial.

The city and Larimer County have already paid more than $140,000 in legal fees stemming from Masters' case. Asking for him to pay back those legal fees if he loses is standard practice, and a judge would decide.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ACTION ALERT - Stop HB - 1075

Action Alert – Jan 20, 2009
HB 1075 Concerning Expansion of Criminal History Employment Disqualifications for Employees of the Department of Human Services

Sponsor: Representative Karen Middleton


Committee Hearing: Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 1:30pm in House Committee Hearing Room 107 (ground floor of Capitol)

Current law:

Current law (CRS 27-1-110) allows the Colorado Department of Human Services (DHS) to permanently disqualify someone from being hired for a position that involves direct contact with vulnerable persons if they have been convicted of specific offenses that involve violence, child abuse, and unlawful sexual behavior. Under current law, there is also a 10 year ban from completion of sentence for employment in DHS for a position that involves direct contact with vulnerable persons for people who have been convicted of third degree assault, domestic violence, misdemeanor child abuse, misdemeanor sexual assault, and violating a protection order.

When the legislature enacted this law, it indicated that its intent was to “minimize the potential for hiring and employing persons with a propensity toward abuse, assault or similar offenses against others for positions that would provide them with unsupervised access to vulnerable persons.”

What HB 1075 would do:

HB 1075 would greatly EXPAND the employment disqualification in CRS 27-1-110 to:

1. Apply the employment disqualification to any position within DHS, even those that do not have direct contact with clients.

2. Apply the employment disqualification to all contract employees, even for positions that do not have direct client contact. It would also prevent any current contract employee who had a prior conviction for a disqualifying offense to CONTINUE in their position after the effective date of the legislation, July 1, 2009. (What is not clear is whether the definition of a “contract employee” only refers to individuals or whether that would also include other agencies or corporations that provide contract services, like the managed service organizations that provide substance abuse treatment services or non-profits organizations.)

3. Repeals the exception for people that had successfully completed a deferred sentence or adjudication.

4. Adds all felony drug convictions to the list of offenses that would disqualify someone from being hired at DHS for 10 years after the completion of the sentence (including parole).

5. Adds ALL class 2, 3, 4 or 5 felonies to the list of offenses that prohibits someone from being hired at DHS for 10 years after the completion of the sentence (including parole).

6. No longer would allow an exception if the person was a juvenile when convicted of the disqualifying offense.

HB 1075 would also

7. Require DHS to include a conduct a fingerprint based criminal history record check as part of the employment screening process, including contract employees.

8. Repeal the provision that requires DHS to contact prior employers of applicants and repeals the immunity provided to prior employers for information disclosed unless the prior employer knowingly provided false information.
Hearing – House Judiciary Committee

Thursday, January 22, 2009 at 1:30pm (4th bill on agenda)

Committee Hearing Room 107 – Capitol ground floor


HB 1075 is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Thursday, January 22nd at 1:30pm. Please contact the following committee members. We understand that there are some legislators that have concerns about HB 1075 and that Rep. Middleton, the sponsor, is working on possible amendments. CCJRC is not aware of the content of the amendments, though.

Talking Points:

1. While we understand that DHS needs to protect vulnerable clients, HB 1075 is incredibly broad and would prohibit employment even for positions that have no direct client contact. As we understand this bill, someone who has a drug conviction from 5 years ago couldn’t even work as a janitor at DHS.

2. DHS has not provided any rationale as to why it is necessary to so dramatically widen the employment disqualification.

3. In a state that is actively trying to reduce the recidivism rate and where obtaining employment is well understood to be a key component to successful reentry or productive living in society, DHS is setting a terrible example to other state and county agencies that may follow suit by also unilaterally disqualifying people with criminal convictions from getting government jobs. It is also hypocritical for the state to urge and expect private businesses to hire people with criminal convictions but slam the door on them for jobs at DHS.

4. There would also be a dramatic and conflicting impact where people with criminal convictions (particularly those in recovery) are able to get licensed as alcohol and drug treatment counselors but who would, under HB 1075, be prevented from working at DHS even though people in recovery are often some of the most effective treatment counselors and role models.

5. Blanket employment practices that prohibit people with criminal convictions from even applying are unfair and short-sighted. There are many talented people who made mistakes in the past but who would be great employees in DHS or elsewhere. People need to screened for employment as an individual – not as a group.

House Judiciary Committee Members:

Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder), chairman – 303-866-2578, claire.levy.house@state.co.us
Rep. Beth McCann (D-Denver), vice-chairman – 303-966-2959, ehmccann@comcast.net
Rep. Dennis Apuan (D-El Paso), 303-866-3069, repdennisapuan@gmail.com
Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver), 303-866-2967, loiscourt@msn.com
Rep. Bob Gardner (R-El Paso), 303-866-2191, bob.gardner.house@state.co.us
Rep. Steve King (R-Delta), 303-866-3068, steve.king.house@state.co.us
Rep. Joe Miklosi (D-Denver), 303-866-2910, joe@joemiklosi.com
Rep. Sal Pace (D-Pueblo), 303-966-2968, sal_pace@hotmail.com
Rep. Ellen Roberts (R-Archuleta), 303-866-2914, ellen.roberts.house@state.co.us
Rep. Su Ryden (D-Arapahoe), 303-866-2942, su@suryden.com
Rep. Mark Waller (R-El Paso), 303-866-5525, mark.waller.house@state.co.us

Teen Court--Justice For Kids By Kids

Castle Rock

Teen Court: Justice for teens, by teens
Contributed by: Erin Feese/YourHub.com on 1/12/2009

Teens in Castle Rock and Parker with a passion for law and justice are doing more than watching Law & Order reruns. Teen Court gives kids between 12 and 17 a chance to actually be in the courtroom and make decisions that affect their peers.

"Teen Court is designed to use positive peer pressure to encourage the offenders to change their behavior," said Sandra Gutierrez, director of the Teen Court programs in both Parker and Castle Rock.

Teen Court is a community-based program for misdemeanor juvenile offenders for crimes such as theft, harassment, trespassing, property damage, minor in possession and possession of marijuana. It gives first-time offenders, who would normally go before a judge, the option to go before a jury of their peers, Gutierrez said.

In making decisions, Teen Court volunteers draw on a variety of training including constitutional law, criminal law, victim impact and diversity, Gutierrez said. In determining a defendant's sanction, teens not only look at the charge, but also what is going on in the young person's life, she said.

"They really are trained to take into consideration all aspects of the case and to be fair and appropriate for each person," she said. "They are not there to punish, but to hold the person accountable."

The sanctions ordered by Teen Court carry the same weight as if ordered by municipal court. If a defendant completes his or her sentences within the allotted amount of time and does not commit another offense for six months after the hearing, the original charge is dismissed.

Teen Court is a restorative justice program, which means it focuses on repairing the harm done to the community, Gutierrez said. Many defendants from Teen Court come back to volunteer for the program.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Editorial: How Much Reality Is Too Much?

Stop the Drug War
David Borden How much reality is too much? For many politicians, any intelligent discussion about what the drug laws are actually doing to us is more reality than they can take.

This was illustrated in a lurid way recently, after the city council of El Paso, Texas, did something unusually real. As part of a resolution expressing solidarity with the neighboring Mexican city Juarez, struggling with a wave of drug trade violence that sometimes crosses the border, council members included an amendment calling for "an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics" to stop that violence.

El Paso Mayor John Cook, who had only watched silently when the resolution was discussed, responded by vetoing it, arguing that it would make it hard for him to lobby Congress for funding. But he demonstrated the ignorance underlying his veto move in an e-mail deriding legalization supporters as "pot heads" that wound up going public.

It got worse. State legislators and even El Paso's US congressman got involved, lobbying the council members with sky-will-fall warnings about El Paso losing out on stimulus and law enforcement funding. But City Rep. O'Rourke, the sponsor of the resolution, pointed out that none of the legislators could cite a single actual threat made.

Tuesday, the Council failed on a 4-4 vote to override the mayor's veto. But the mayor's victory was pyrrhic. Council reps who voted against the override stated publicly they did so only because of the threat of losing funding. And critics of such intellectual intolerance waxed eloquent, like City Rep. Steve Ortega, who voted to override: "If we are silent on this matter, the prospects for the future of this community are placed in danger. And I'm not going to stand here idly and listen to unnamed legislators threaten us for having a dialogue over the future of this community."

For a city council to speak up about prohibition causing violence was too much reality this month for a mayor, their state legislators and congressman. But with neighbors across their border being killed, and the effects of it hitting El Paso, that reality was too much for the council to not speak up, at least for awhile. Ignorance won the final vote this time. But we'll be back.

National Gang Task Force Moving To Denver

Rocky Mountain News

 — A national gang task force is moving its headquarters to Pueblo.

The National Major Gang Task Force will be in Pueblo starting Feb. 1. It is now based in Indianapolis.

The task force was founded in 1993 and works nationally to provide intelligence and training about gangs, terrorists and other security threats to communities, law enforcement agencies, schools and prisons. The nonprofit organization consists largely of employees and experts from corrections departments.

Daryl A. Vigil, manager of the Colorado Department of Correction’s high-security bed unit, has been elected the task

force’s interim executive director.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Master's Case Accrues More Fees

The Denver Post
FORT COLLINS, Colo.—Legal fees for Fort Collins and Larimer County officials involved in the case of a man wrongly imprisoned for a homicide have reached than $140,000 and a lawsuit is still pending.

The legal fees are to defend current and former employees who worked on the Timothy Masters case, whose conviction was overturned last January because new DNA evidence exonerated him from the 1987 slaying of Peggy Hettrick.

Masters became the first person in Colorado to be released from prison because of DNA evidence. He was 15 at the time of the Hettrick's stabbing death and police scrutinized him then, but it wasn't until 12 years later that he was prosecuted and convicted.

He spent 10 years in prison.

Masters is suing Fort Collins and Larimer County officials in a federal court civil rights lawsuit. Masters says he was maliciously prosecuted and that officials engaged in a conspiracy to convict him despite evidence pointing to other suspects.

David Lane, who is representing Masters in his lawsuit, said he hopes to shame the city and the county into settling with Masters. He is seeking unspecified damages.

Something Like Beautiful: A Single Mother's Story

Asha Bandele is my friend and she is releasing her new book"Something Like Beautiful: A Single Mother's Story" which will be available on January 27th.  If you haven't read her other book, "The Prisoner's Wife", do yourself a favor and get it soon.

From Amazon:

From the author of The Prisoner's Wife, a poetic, passionate, and powerful memoir about the hard realities of single motherhood

When Asha Bandele, a young poet, fell in love with a prisoner serving a twenty-to-life sentence and became pregnant with his daughter, she had reason to hope they would live together as a family. Rashid was a model prisoner, and expected to be paroled soon. But soon after Nisa was born, Asha's dreams were shattered. Rashid was denied parole, and told he'd be deported to his native Guyana once released. Asha became a statistic: a single, black mother in New York City.

On the outside, Asha kept it together. She had a great job at a high-profile magazine and a beautiful daughter whom she adored. But inside, she was falling apart. She began drinking and smoking and eventually stumbled into another relationship, one that opened new wounds. This lyrical, astonishingly honest memoir tells of her descent into depression when her life should have been filled with love and joy. Something Like Beautiful is not only Asha's story, but the story of thousands of women who struggle daily with little help and much against them, and who believe they have no right to acknowledge their pain. Ultimately, drawing inspiration from her daughter, Asha takes account of her life and envisions for herself what she believes is possible for all mothers who thought there was no way out--and then discovered there was. 

Thieves Target Medical Pot Users

Yet another reason why decriminalization is necessary...
Denver Post

Two masked men forced their way at gunpoint into a Fort Collins home whose occupants are on a medical-marijuana registry list and demanded drugs, then stole cash and other valuables Sunday.

The two men were wearing dark hoodies and ski masks when they knocked on the door of the home in the 3600 block of Big Dipper Drive at about 7:20 p.m., according to Fort Collins police.

They demanded drugs, and when the two occupants couldn't produce any, they stole cash and electronics and fled.

The case is currently under investigation. Police are asking anyone with information to contact Fort Collins Police Detective Gar Haugo at 970-416-2271 or Crime Stoppers of Larimer County at 970-221-6868.

SCF Cleans Up From The Inside Out

STERLING — Sterling Correctional Facility is doing its part to try to reduce waste. Rick Schulte, supervisor of SFC’s recycling and composting program, spoke to Rotary Wednesday about the program at the prison.

SCF is the largest prison in Colorado, with approximately 2,500 inmates, which means they generate a lot of waste. In 2001 the prison generated around 1,400 tons of trash. By 2006 that number had been cut by 59 percent with the composting and recycling program.

Journal Advocate

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Governor Proposes Budget Cuts

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter recommended Friday that lawmakers cut $632 million from the current state budget, with major reductions for higher education, public education and health care. He also warned that more cuts are coming.

Ritter said his top priorities are public safety and public health, and despite his proposed cuts, he said he wants to protect higher education as much as he can.

Todd Saliman, Ritter's budget director, told lawmakers the state faces a $632 million shortfall in this year's $18.6 billion operating budget - and that that figure could soar to more than $1 billion over the next two years.

"The governor's plan is to try to fairly distribute the pain across the entire state government," Saliman told the Joint Budget Committee, which will have to vote on final cuts in coming weeks before working on more cuts for next year's budget.

Forbes Magazine

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Drug War Next Door

Before you venture into Mexico's Ciudad Juarez, brace yourself to hear Texans tell you that you're crazy. Visiting friends in neighboring El Paso, Texas, a few days before Christmas, I was immediately warned, "Don't even think about going into Juarez."

Just across the shallow creek known as the Rio Grande from El Paso, one of the safest cities of its size in the nation, Juarez is a city under siege, the worst victim of Mexico's growing wars between drug cartels.

The tragedy is etched in daily news headlines. The day I arrived, two Mexican police officers were ambushed, shot to death while sitting in their patrol car. Just another bloody day in Juarez.

Hardly a day goes by without a new Juarez horror story in the El Paso Times:

Chicago Tribune

Change in America

The Ideas for Change in America competition was created in response to Barack Obama's call for increased citizen involvement in government. The final round of voting began on January 5 and is comprised of the top 3 rated ideas from each of the 30 issues in the first round of the competition, which collectively received more than 250,000 votes.

The top 10 rated ideas from the final round will be presented to the Obama administration on January 16th at an event at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, co-hosted by the Case Foundation. At the event we will also announce the launch of a national advocacy campaign behind each idea in collaboration with our nonprofit partners to turn each idea into actual policy. For more information about the competition, click here »

All Finalists | Top Rated Ideas

JPI: Violent Crime Fell In 2008

Justice Policy Institute

Background: The FBI Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report was released Monday, January 12th with the news that the United States experienced a 3.5 percent decline in the number of reported violent offenses and a 2.5 percent decline in the number of reported property offenses in the first half of 2008. This drop in crime came at a time when the prison and jail growth rates fell from previous years and when state corrections spending grew at a lower rate than the previous year.1 The Justice Policy Institute (JPI), a Washington, D.C.-
based policy group that promotes fair and rational justice policies, cautions that no single factor can explain changes in crime across the nation, or within a jurisdiction. We have assembled key findings from these new crime and prison surveys to put the new figures in their appropriate context. For a more in-depth analysis of crime trends, and information on effective public safety practices, please visit our website at www.justicepolicy.org.

DEA Rejects Marijuana Rescheduling

Stop The Drug War

The DEA has rejected yet another petition seeking to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), this one from Iowa-based marijuana reformer Carl Olsen. It is only the latest petition rejection by the agency in a glacially-paced struggle to reschedule marijuana that has been going on since 1972.

But Olsen and other advocates of the rescheduling tactic say that is to be expected, and the rejection is only the opening phase of this particular battle, not the end of the line. And while Olsen heads to federal court to challenge the DEA ruling, another petition to reschedule marijuana is still in process, as it has been for the past six years.

Richard Nixon was just beginning his second term in office when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) filed the first rescheduling petition. It took 22 years and numerous court challenges before the DEA finally rejected that petition. In the meantime, the DEA rescheduled marijuana's primary psychoactive ingredient, THC, as a Schedule II drug in 1985 and loosened controls over THC even further by rescheduling it to Schedule III in 1999. That allows doctors to prescribe Marinol, but not marijuana.

Another rescheduling petition, filed by Olsen in 1992, was rejected years later, as was a 1995 petition submitted by former NORML head, researcher, and professor of public policy Jon Gettman. In 2002, Gettman, in association with a long list of supporters, submitted yet another Cannabis Rescheduling Petition, which remains pending.

Under the CSA, he argues, substances must meet several criteria to be placed in Schedule I, the most restrictive schedule. The substance must have a high potential for abuse, it must have "no currently accepted medical use" in the US, and there must be a lack of accepted safety for use of the substance. Both the Olsen petition that was rejected last month (although the decision was not published until this week) and the pending Gettman petition argue that marijuana no longer qualifies to be placed in Schedule I because it does have "currently accepted medical use" in the US, citing in particular the ever-growing number of states that have legalized its medicinal use.

But the two petitions differ in the way they seek to remedy the situation, and it is this difference that accounts for the vastly different pace at which they have been handled by the DEA. While the Gettman petition is still awaiting a ruling six years after it was filed, Olsen's petition was only filed this year. The Gettman petition seeks to reschedule marijuana through the administrative process, the Olsen petition argues that the issue is a matter of statutory law. Under the CSA, if marijuana is found to have "currently accepted medical use," it cannot be Schedule I.

"I filed in May, filed a federal lawsuit in September, and got a ruling December," said Olsen. "The DEA has never moved that fast on a petition in its history, and by denying the petition, it is avoiding the possibility of having to deal with it again because now it will instead go back to the court of appeals."

Olsen's petition was not a request, but a demand that DEA recognize the reality that marijuana cannot be a Schedule I drug, he said. "I didn't ask for anything; I demanded that they comply with the law. It's not a Schedule I drug, and they are breaking the law by keeping it there," he said. "The statute says it can't be a Schedule I drug if it has accepted medical use, and 13 states say it has accepted medical use. Doesn't that mean anything?"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

House Committee Calendar

The House Judiciary now meets in Room 0107 and not in 0112 as in prior years.

Wednesday, January 14

1:30 p.m.
Room 0107 Judiciary
HB 1021 Solano --Reauthorize Mentally Ill Offenders Study
HB 1022 Solano --Recidivism Reduction Grant Program

Thursday, January 22

1:30 p.m.
Room 0107 Judiciary
HB 1044 Roberts --Sealing Of Direct File Records
HB 1037 Tipton --Montrose County Reclassification
HB 1075 Middleton --DOHS Criminal Prohibitions To Employment

Monday, January 26

Room 0107 Joint House & Senate Judiciary
--Briefings by:
Office of the Child's Representative
Alternate Defense Counsel
Colorado State Public Defender
Metro Area Co. Commis. Mentally Ill Offenders Task Force

Thursday, January 29

1:30 p.m.
Room 0107 Judiciary
HB 1081 Looper --Vehicular Homicide Statute Of Limitation
HB 1049 May --No Plea Bargain Illegal Alien

Monday, February 2

1:30 p.m.
Room 0107 Joint House & Senate Judiciary
--Briefings by:
Department of Corrections
Judicial Department
Governor's Office of Homeland Security

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bo Matthews Center Helps With Employment

9 News

DENVER - Christmas Day was a very happy one for David Phares. It was not because of gifts he received, but because the 27-year-old had gotten out of prison just one day before. Three weeks later, Phares was hoping for one more present: a new job.

"I've applied for a lot of jobs," he said.

Phares and other ex-felons got some help with their job hunts on Monday. The Bo Matthews Center for Excellence hosted an event that matched up job-seekers with businesses that can provide advice and apprenticeships, despite their criminal backgrounds.

"What their past was, what they did before, that's not going to matter," said Denver Joint Electrical Apprenticeship Training Committee (DJEATC) Training Coordinator Dan Hendricks. "If they want to work, we've got a place for them."

DJEATC provides multi-year training programs for a fee, teaching people how to become electricians.

Several other companies also attend the event. Forty-four-year-old Jerry Harris, convicted of drug possession, was one of the first job-seekers to arrive.

"It shows there are a lot of companies that do care and they don't mind my background," she said. "I'm not who I used to be."

Bo Matthews Center for Excellence Project Manager Innael Miranda says the tough job market means it's harder than ever for ex-felons to compete with so many qualified applicants.

"We have people who were laid off, who were managers, who have been with companies for long periods of time and are looking for work. These are people our clients have to compete with," he said.

The stiffened competition is one reason why Miranda stresses the importance of learning a specific skill or trade.

"It's almost mandatory that they have training and certification in order to find a job," he said.

Miranda's organization also serves homeless and low-income residents. He says the nonprofit will soon open its own business to provide clients with jobs.

From the Big House to a Rental Home

As landlords, Alf and Jeannie Gizzo have a ready supply of tenants for their two rental properties.

Their fledgling real estate company, Earthwalker Property Solutions LLC, is one of just five Denver-area companies registered as a vendor to the Colorado Department of Corrections. That status gives them referrals of recent parolees looking for housing in exchange for an agreement to rent exclusively to ex-offenders.

"It is an extremely underserved market," said Jeannie Gizzo.

Upon checking applicants' backgrounds, most property owners will automatically reject parolees and ex-convicts. But the potential for trouble doesn't discourage the Gizzos, who say they're motivated by a desire to do good.

"It fits our values," said

The Gizzos only lease to nonviolent ex-offenders, whose crimes tend to be related to family, money or drugs and alcohol.

"We look at people on a case-by- case basis," Alf Gizzo said.

Statewide, there are 13 landlords who are registered vendors to the Department of Corrections. Those landlords own a total of 27 eligible homes, according to Heather Elliott, the department's manager of offender programs.

"Obviously, a landlord can rent to anyone," Elliott said. Vendor status is not required to do that. But by registering with the state, property owners such as the Gizzos get referrals from pre-release specialists working within the prisons and community re -entry specialists working with parole officers.

In exchange, landlords agree to various terms, including renting exclusively to ex-offenders on parole. Prison officials think it's better that way, because parolees tend to be in the same boat, often monitored for substance abuse and visited regularly at home by parole officers.

The Department of Corrections provides a "template" of rules for the landlord. If the rules aren't enforced, the landlord won't get tenant referrals in the future.

No smoking indoors or overnight guests, for example, are rules are suggested by the DOC.

Many tenants are banned from using drugs and alcohol, but it depends on terms of the individual's parole. The Gizzos have established some additional rules of their own. Tenants must clean up after themselves and shovel the walk, for example.

One of the Gizzos' homes sits on a quiet, working-class street in southwest Denver. Five men share the 1,000-square-foot home, and resident David Ling said it's not difficult getting along with his roommates.

The key is to "leave my problems at the door" when arriving home, said Ling, 37, who has been

The Denver Post

Pot Fines Cut In Federal Heights

FEDERAL HEIGHTS — Times are tough for everyone, including pot smokers busted under the city's old possession law.

So the council, which represents about 12,000 people, decided last week to cut the fine for marijuana possession of an ounce or less from $1,000 to $500 and eliminate the possibility of jail time.

Marijuana advocates say the city was reacting to the dire economic climate and how prosecuting someone for a small amount of marijuana would be a financial hardship for both the suspect and the city.

"When you consider the massive fine someone could face, it could destroy them," said Brian Vicente, executive director of Sensible Colorado, a nonprofit group pushing for reform of marijuana laws.

The city also will save itself money, time and effort in pursuing a petty offense under state law, said Mason Tvert, who heads Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, which claims pot smoking is safer than drinking.

A similar offense under state law would draw up to a $100 fine with no possibility of jail.

"If the council was looking at methamphetamines causing problems, obviously they wouldn't change anything," said Tvert. "This city has recognized marijuana is not the devil, not the horrible drug that's been talked about for 70 years."

City officials said they are not advocating abolishing pot laws. Rather, they were following the suggestion of the city prosecutor — aligning local law with the state law.

The Denver Post

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Wild Horses Tame Man


Budget Crisis Forcing States To Rethink Prisons

h/t to Scott at Grits for this article

NEW YORK —  Their budgets in crisis, governors, legislators and prison officials across the nation are making or considering policy changes that will likely remove tens of thousands of offenders from prisons and parole supervision.

Collectively, the pending and proposed initiatives could add up to one of biggest shifts ever in corrections policy, putting into place cost-saving reforms that have struggled to win political support in the tough-on-crime climate of recent decades.

"Prior to this fiscal crisis, legislators could tinker around the edges — but we're now well past the tinkering stage," said Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which advocates alternatives to incarceration.

"Many political leaders who weren't comfortable enough, politically, to do it before can now — under the guise of fiscal responsibility — implement programs and policies that would be win/win situations, saving money and improving corrections," Mauer said

In California, faced with a projected $42 billion deficit and prison overcrowding that has triggered a federal lawsuit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to eliminate parole for all offenders not convicted of violent or sex-related crimes, reducing the parole population by about 70,000. He also wants to divert more petty criminals to county jails and grant early release to more inmates — steps that could trim the prison population by 15,000 over the next 18 months.

Naming The New Jail

For some reason I don't think that my suggestions are going to be considered....

Forget the U.S. Senate appointment. Don't even think about which Coloradan is up for the next job in President- elect Barack Obama's administration.

The real intense lobbying at Denver's city hall involves something completely different: naming rights for the new Denver Justice Center Complex, which voters approved in 2005.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper in November solicited suggestions, and people funneled petitions to a task force the mayor formed to deal with the issue. The mayor, after consulting with the task force, plans to forward the finalists to the City Council for final approval in the spring.

There's a big push to name the detention facility after the Van Cise family, which has had three influential lawyers in Denver, including former district attorney Philip Van Cise, who prosecuted mobsters and the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.

Another group, which includes Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, wants to name the new courthouse after the late Dale Tooley, who headed the district attorney's office from 1973 to 1983.

And those factions are just the most vocal. Anyone could submit a suggestion if they provided at least 100 signatures and a reason why the suggested individual should be honored.

Pool of candidates

Sue Cobb, the mayor's spokesperson, said the task force received five submissions for the courthouse and six for the detention center, all of which met the criteria for consideration.

"I've been working on this for the last year," said Cindy Van Cise, whose great-grandfather, grandfather and father are all considered legal luminaries in Denver.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Drug Stance Defended

.....O'Rourke referred to the El Paso-Juarez metropolitan area as the largest bi-national community in the world and pointed out the murders in Juarez and the six drug-related kidnappings in El Paso as prove the war on drugs has failed. "This 40 year drug war is actually making things worse," he said, "it has not decreased the availability of drugs in the U.S."

When Sanchez pressed him on conditions in Juarez, O'Rourke responded by calling Juarez a failed city and added its mayor and city council members all live in El Paso.  "The drug cartels are literally in control of our sister city and the drug war is actually making them richer," said O'Rourke.

The city councilman went on to say he and many others in El Paso feel it is only a matter of time before drug-related violence destabilizes the Mexican government. "We'll have to face the prospect of a failed state," O'Rourke warned.

O'Rourke closed his argument by reminding Sanchez that El Paso is the third safest large city in the U.S. and many are just worried about some of the violence in Juarez crossing the border into the Sun City. "You'd be surprised at some of the positive feedback I have received," he said. "We want a different status quo. The current status quo is simply not working."

Near the end of the interview, Sanchez outlined two key points by a recent Harvard University study on the legalization of narcotics. The federal government would save $44 billion in law enforcement costs and collect an extra $33 billion by taxing narcotics if legalization became a reality, according to the study.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Legislature 2009

Legislature 2009

Starts: 10 a.m. January 7

Ends: The session must be over by midnight May 6, but lawmakers can end earlier.

Senate breakdown: 21 Democrats, 14 Republicans

House breakdown: 38 Democrats, 27 Republicans

Of note: Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter will deliver his State of the State address at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The Capitol online

State Web site: leg.state.co.us. The site includes informations on bills, how to contact lawmakers and has an audio link to listen to committees or floor action.

Phone: 303-866-2904

Address: 200 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO, 80203.

House only: Live Web-streaming at coloradochannel.net or live TV at Comcast Channel 165

D.A. Quick Says No To US Attorney Job

View the original

The man many considered the frontrunner to be Colorado's next U.S. attorney said Monday he is not interested in the job.

Adams County District Attorney Don Quick said he told Sen. Ken Salazar he can't leave his current office at this time. Quick's chief deputy, Sean May, was murdered outside his home last year, and several other top prosecutors in his office have left for judgeships.

"This is where I need to be right now," Quick said.

That leaves Salazar with several other possible candidates, and just a few weeks to send a name to the White House.

Among the Democrats being mentioned are Stephanie Villafuerte, deputy chief of staff to Gov.

December DOC Population Reports

December Population Reports

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Reducing Jail Beds And Crime At The Same Time

Reducing Jail Use and Crime at the Same Time

Programs funded by the Crime Prevention and Control Commission are cutting jail
time for offenders while improving public safety. A recent evaluation presented
to the Council Safety Committee showed that the Commission's programs are reducing
jail use by over 40,000 jail beds per year.

Some of the Commission's programs are simple, like funding a Pre-sentence Investigation
Report Writer to gather historical information on offenders prior to sentencing.
Simply hiring one person to write these reports is producing annual net savings
of $318,000 and 7,100 jail bed days. Another program that has saved even more
is the Pre-trial Supervision Program.

This program, which monitors offenders in the community while awaiting court, has saved $1,089,590 and 23,056 jail bed days per year. CPCC Programs have overall saved $1,037,111 and 42,086 jail bed days per year. Additional savings will be found when final drug court data collection
is completed.

Some of the more complex programs being funded by the Commission include Drug Court,
mental health services and reentry services. These programs involve intensive services,
so jail bed savings alone do not always offset costs. At the same time, these services
can often result long-term savings from reductions in recidivism, not to mention
savings in other social services sometimes needed by these offenders. Finally,
of course, are the benefits to the community and the hundreds of people who can
now lead productive lives instead of going in and out of jail for what is often
many years.

The Crime Prevention and Control Commission is continuing to measure the success
of its programs and will have more results to show during the next few months.
The Commission was created in 2005 with the approval of the new Justice Center and
is charged with both reducing crime and the need for additional jail space. For
a copy of the Powerpoint presentation to the Council Safety Committee, please visit
here [http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?e=001JFsZG9heghTP0EO0uWIsJ9bTatgHLI-d2D2b1zb2ovq7dXhhhZYRhqwTChOOitCSPKR_oeuiBkVEQBFUopM3adzL5a9XSi-Spnd72IMVqSH6mWqGYGBUvC6BcpQwEZ_qS7cWcL2wvf1JNTn_WnOUOXDAc-y2wrod7-HnLkkRJAaeifqjrmZBLTrjwA4SD5sdsujgdVUwF_E=].

Social Security Online

Hopefully this will allow casemanagers to help people get benefits before they get out.
The Denver Post

WASHINGTON—The Social Security Administration, envisaging the near-future prospect of 10,000 baby boomers applying for benefits every day, has put together a new online service that will allow people to get their benefits without ever traveling to a Social Security field office.

The agency, in introducing the program Tuesday, said most people will be able to apply for their retirement or disability benefits in 15 minutes or less.

Academy Award-winning actress Patty Duke, spokeswoman for the Retire Online campaign, acknowledged that her own computer skills "are wanting." But her husband gave her a demonstration "and I was able to do it with my limited skills. It was very user-friendly," she said in an interview Monday.

The administration is betting that a great majority of baby boomers, the first to grow old in the computer age, will share that opinion.

"We have nearly 80 million baby boomers coming in," Social Security Commissioner Michael J. Astrue told The Associated Press. "We just don't have the infrastructure to handle that workload in the traditional fashion."

The agency estimates that the baby boom generation will become eligible for retirement at a rate of 10,000 a day for the next 20 years.

The Social Security system already faces a long-term financial crisis as fewer workers finance the retirements of more senior citizens. In 2008, it was paying out some $614 billion to 50 million retirees and their dependents, disabled workers and survivors.

The agency has had versions of online applications since 2000, but in the past applicants have still had to mail or deliver paper documents with their signatures and copies of birth certificates or W-2 forms. In the future, the process should be paperless in the majority of cases.

"We redid it from scratch. It's easier to use, it's faster," Astrue said. He said it now takes about 45 minutes for a field officer to finish an application form for a person who visits a Social Security office.

David Certner, AARP's legislative policy director, said the new program was "a nice tool, particularly as more people are more comfortable with using the computer and the Internet."


Change.org - Ideas for Change in America
Source: www.change.org
President-Elect Obama says he wants to hear ideas from all Americans, so we're taking him up on his offer. Submit your ideas for how to change America, discuss with others, and vote for your favorites.
Ending Marijuana Prohibition for medicinal use is the number one idea for change. Please help by voting..ending the War on Drugs is next.

Pushing Back On The Budget

It may be the only way that we can stop CSP II from opening but that' fine.
The Denver Post

Gov. Bill Ritter said Monday he is proposing to slash state spending, raid cash funds and tap the state's budget reserve — in that order — to deal with a projected $600 million shortfall in the fiscal year that ends in June.

Calling it a "tiered approach," Ritter said he would first propose cuts to base state spending from $200 million to $250 million to deal with the shortfall, which his budget analysts have projected to be $230 million but legislative staff have put at $604 million.

If the cuts to base spending, which Ritter did not outline, don't do the trick, the governor then would call for using $250 million to $300 million from the state's cash funds, financed by fees for services.in the current year's budget is still approaching the $604 million figure, Ritter would propose taking $100 million from the state $320 million general fund reserve.

"We wouldn't use up that reserve, and we don't want to use it up," Ritter said, "but if we got all the way to $600 million necessary in cuts, that last (portion) would come from the reserve."His predecessor, Republican Gov. Bill Owens, also had to dip into cash funds and cut spending to deal with a budget crisis in the early part of the decade. The state used more than $1 billion from those cash funds during that budget crunch, and the funds have not been fully replenished since then.

"They couched it in terms of a loan, but they didn't pay them all back," Ritter said.

"It would be nice if we never got to get to taking money out of (cash) funds," he said, "and the minute we start identifying ones, we'll have interest groups really wild about their (cash) fund being vulnerable.

"We'll have to do what we have to do."

Ritter in September ordered a hiring freeze, which his office said has saved about $12 million by not filling 463 positions. He also ordered that about $50 million in campus construction projects be delayed along with $35 million in grants for full-day kindergarten construction projects.

Later in the year, Ritter ordered state agencies to propose 2.5 percent cuts to their general fund budgets. He has now asked them to prepare for 10 percent cuts in the coming fiscal year, which begins in June.

Although the shortfall currently projected for the next budget year, which begins in July, is smaller — estimated close to $385 million — there might be fewer ways to fill the hole. That is because already strained cash funds would be further depleted, and the state's budget reserve would be even smaller if the shortfall in the current year tops $600 million.

Rep. Don Marostica, R-Loveland, envisioned more problems. He said he is not convinced that the forecasts for the current and next fiscal years are conservative enough and thinks state revenues are not going to be as robust as predicted.

"I think it (the shortfall) is going to be more," Marostica said.

Ritter on Monday said he was considering a delay in the opening of a state prison west of Pueblo next year. Pushing back the opening of the 948-bed Colorado State Penitentiary II would save $16.6 million in the current fiscal year and $38.6 million the year after that.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Pueblo Native: Warden At Limon

January 04, 2009 12:13 am
DENVER - Pueblo native Travis Trani might be the youngest prison warden in the history of the state

- that isn't known for sure, but he's certainly the youngest one right now.

At age 35 - he's 36 now - Trani was named warden at Limon Correctional Facility in September after working there as associate warden for two years.

His 14-year career in the Colorado Department of Corrections has seen him go from a prison guard to warden, in part, because he's as smart as they come, said DOC spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti.

"Travis is just a shining star," Sanguinetti said. "He truly has a fine mind, and he's a very good leader. He has the ability to stop and think and see the big picture. He was never one to make a snap decision. He always wanted to see all aspects of an issue before deciding."

He also has scored among the highest on the state's personnel system exams, she said, adding that the average age of the department's other wardens is about 50.

Trani, a 1991 graduate of Pueblo County High School, decided on a career in the department to follow in the footsteps of his father, Ralph, who retired from the DOC after 21 years. The elder Trani was a captain whose last assignment was at San Carlos Correctional Facility in Pueblo, where he now lives with his wife, Beverly.

"I got hired on to the department in 1994 as an officer working at Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in Canon City," he said. "Since then, I moved around a lot. This is my sixth (DOC) facility."

Trani also has worked at Colorado State Penitentiary, Colorado Women's Correctional Facility and Fremont Correctional Facility, all in Canon City.

Limon houses 953 inmates and has a staff of about 300. It is a Level 4 facility, meaning it houses some of the state's most violent offenders.

"Our big focus is to make a cognitive change to make it where they can function within the facility, and eventually go to a lower-custody facility to obtain the programs they need so they can re-enter society and not recidivate," Trani said.

"These programs do work. The department right now is taking steps so we have evidence-based practices, so we can gauge the success of our programs to make sure that what we are doing actually works.

"I really do think we can affect change in the offenders and get them to where they can become productive citizens," Trani added. "By doing that, we meet our ultimate goal, which is public safety. If we can send an offender out where they don't re-offend and commit further crimes, that's good."

Evan Dreyer, the governor's press secretary, said that despite the tough economic times the state finds itself in, and the likelihood that budget cuts will be made, the governor has no intention of cutting back on his recidivism efforts.

Dreyer said that while there may be a cost now, the programs ultimately save the state money in the future from not having to house more people in prison.

"Right now, the plan is to maintain their integrity, but everything is under review," Dreyer said. "We will need to look everywhere in order to achieve the hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts in order to balance the budget, but this is a high priority because it represents an initial investment that will reap later returns. It's smart budgeting, so we're going to do everything we can to stick to our guns on this."

Trani said he fears the faltering economy will cause the state to cut DOC jobs as it did during the last recession earlier this decade.

During that time, the state eliminated about 575 positions, mostly through attrition. Since then, the Legislature has re-created 50 of those DOC jobs.

"Right now, we're holding steady as far as our staffing goes, so it will be dependent on the future of revenues and whether we have to make cuts," Trani said. "My biggest fear with the state of the economy is losing the staff we have now. Hopefully, through this downturn in the economy, we can maintain our staffing and keep our facility safe. That's the bottom line."

Pueblo Chieftain