The Denver Post
How many mistaken-identity arrests does it take to make you angry?
For me, one was enough — a mom snatched from her home in Sterling and jailed in Denver because the city figured she was someone she isn't.
Then came another case, and another and another. Victim after victim has told how they were arrested and thrown behind bars because of sloppy police work.
A former city worker was mistaken for a man who was long dead. A student was held for a week without a court appearance and forced to answer to another man's name. And a 21-year-old was jailed more than four months on a warrant for a suspect with a discernibly different physical description.
In the two years since Christina FourHorn, the Sterling mom, went public about her ordeal, the city has tried to shrug off its screw-ups as anomalies. Officials estimate only a few ID errors have been made among thousands of inmates.
"Handling so many people as we do, a couple mistakes are bound to happen," the undersheriff once told me.
But Denver's little problem may be far bigger than the city admits. Since 2002, 219 more people seem to have been wrongly held, court documents and sheriffs' records indicate.
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, January 24, 2010
The Denver Post