Prison spending was less than 3 percent of the Colorado budget 20 years ago. Today, in an era when the population base is aging and crime rates are dropping, the state spends 9 percent of its general fund to incarcerate convicts.
“It is clearly time to take a hard look at the sentence laws and policies that help drive run-away prison spending in Colorado,” said Mike Krause, a senior fellow at the conservative, free market Independence Institute.
Krause, along with The Gazette, the Pew Center on the States, and Prison Fellowship sponsored a forum at the Antlers Hilton Friday night in order to promote understanding of the need to reform Colorado sentencing standards to reduce the overhead of incarceration.
The panel featured Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, State Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, Richard Jerome from the Pew Center on the State’s Public Safety Performance Project, and Christie Donner, executive director and founder of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.
Suthers, Waller and Jerome are members of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which is proposing sentencing reforms that may lead to reasonable reductions in the prison population that won’t endanger the public. No one on the panel, Republican or Democrat, is even remotely soft on crime. Suthers, a former prosecutor who authored the book “No Higher Calling, No Greater Responsibility,” could be one of the most talented and passionate lawmen in the country.
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.
Saturday, February 06, 2010