ACTION ALERT – STOP THE OPENING OF CSP II
THIS FRIDAY, March 12th, the Joint Budget Committee will be finalizing the DOC budget for the upcoming fiscal year which will become part of the “Long Bill”, the state budget bill that must be approved by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.
As part of its 2010-2011 budget request, the Department of Corrections (DOC) is asking for $10.8 million to open one tower at the Colorado State Penitentiary II (CSP II). This request is stunning because it comes on the heels of cuts recently made to the current DOC budget (2009-2010) for prison vocational and educational programs ($3 million cut) and wrap-around services for parolees ($1.8 million cut).
CSP II– THE WRONG ANSWER and A MIS-USE OF LIMITED STATE FUNDS
Oppose Budget Amendment 10 – CSP II Tower I
AN ANALYSIS OF COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS STATISTICS AND RESEARCH DEMONSTRATES THAT:
1) THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THAT THESE ADDITIONAL AD-SEG BEDS WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEMS ALLEGED BY DOC. IN FACT, THE EVIDENCE SUGGESTS THE BEDS WILL HAVE NO LONG TERM EFFECT.
2) COLORADO’S CURRENT MISUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE SEGREGATION BEDS DISPORTIONALLY LOCKS DOWN THE MOST SERIOUSLY MENTALLY ILL IN THE DOC SYSTEM.
We need to allocate resources to DOC that are proven to work.
1) In Budget Amendment 10 - DOC requests $10.8 million additional funds to open one tower at CSP II for a total of 316 additional Admistrative Segration (ad-seg) beds. These beds are “super-max” beds and inmates are locked down 23 hours a day, 7 days a week in solitary confinement.
DOC currently has approximately 1,100 ad-seg beds throughout various prisons. This number represents approximately 7% of the total numbers of state-operated DOC beds and approximately 5.3% of the total numbers of prison beds, including the private prisons.) If Tower I of CSP II is opened, the total number of permanent ad-seg beds in Colorado will be 9.5% of state-operated beds and 6.9% of total bed count including private prisons. The national average for number of inmates in an Ad Seg bed or Super-Max beds is 1.8 to 2% .
The reasons DOC articulates for spending these millions are (as presented in Budget Amendment 10):
· Increase in gang population
· Increase in offender on offender assaults
· Increase in offender homicides
DOC administrators have also verbally referred to “increase in inmate on staff assaults.”
If opened, DOC says CSP II would allow for “the right offender in the right bed with the right resources.” DOC says these ad-seg beds are MORE IMPORTANT THAN any other offender services or programs and more ad-seg prison beds will make offenders and staff safer.
BUT THIS IS NOT SUPPORTED BY DOC STATISTICAL REPORTS
· Homicides have not increased. Analysis of DOC data on homicides for the years 1983 through 2008 report homicides numbers as high as 4 in 2004 and 3 in 1992, 1998 and 2006 and no decrease in homicides related to opening of ad-seg units in 1995 and 1999. Further, there is no evidence that there is any correlation between the 3 recent homicides and lack of ad-seg beds. CCJRC in now way diminishes the tragedy of these murders but the data indicates that they are not historically anomalous.
· The rate of “inmate on inmate” assaults and “inmate on staff” assaults fluctuated before the opening of CSP in 1994. After opening CSP, there was a slight decrease in inmate assaults but that was temporary. Since then, even with the opening of the expansion of CSP in 1999, inmate assaults have fluctuated. The historical DOC data doesn’t support the DOC’s assertion that opening CSP II will dramatically reduce the number of inmate assaults.
Colorado can not” segregate” its way to safety. Programs, adequate and well-trained staff, and mental health services are more effective in promoting the safety of both inmates and staff and humanely treating inmates with mental illness.
2) In a 2008 report, DOC reported the 37% of the inmates in Ad Seg were classified as Offenders with Mentally Illness (OMI). It was also reported that the more severe the mental illness, the greater the likelihood that the offender would be placed in ad-seg.
There was a 40% increase between FY 2001 and FY 2004 in the proportion of OMI in Ad Seg which coincided with the last budget cuts to state agencies, which reduced mental health services in prison.
At least two federal courts have ruled that housing seriously mentally ill inmates in ad-seg is a violation of the 8th Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment.
If the OMI population was removed from ad-seg and provided with mental health treatment in a less restrictive setting, there would be sufficient beds at CSP to house the 119 inmates reported by the DOC to be on an ad-seg “wait list”. This can be done at a much lower cost. However, CCJRC’s position is that DOC is currently overusing ad-seg and that both placement and release criteria needs to be thoroughly reviewed.
COLORADO NEEDS TO FUND WHAT WORKS IN CORRECTIONS. WE ALREADY HAVE ENOUGH AD-SEG BEDS. WE NEED MORE PROGRAMS, MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT, AND SUPPORT SERVICES FOR INMATES AND PAROLEES. THIS IS WHAT BETTER PROMOTES SAFETY AND HUMANE TREATMENT IN PRISON AND EFFECTIVE RE-ENTRY FOLLOWING RELEASE.
DOC DOESN’T NEED MORE ADD AD-SEG BEDS.
Please join CCJRC, ACLU-CO, the state Public Defender and the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association in OPPOSING this incredible waste of taxpayer dollars, and misplaced spending priorities by the Department of Corrections.
Please call members of the Joint Budget Committee and the Governor’s Office before Friday, March 12, 2010 and urge them VOTE “NO” ON FUNDING FOR THE OPENING OF CSP II.
Governor Ritter, 303-866-2471 (To send Governor Ritter and email, go to www.colorado.gov/governor. Scroll down to “Contact the Governor’s Office” and click on “write to the Governor”.
Members of the Joint Budget Committee
Chair Representative Jack Pommer (D-Boulder) (chair), 303.866.2780 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Mo Keller, (D-Jefferson) (vice-chair), 303.866.2585 email@example.com
Representative Mark Ferrandino (D-Denver), 303.866.2911, firstname.lastname@example.org
Representative Kent Lambert (R-Colorado Springs), 303-866.2937, email@example.com
Senator Abel Tapia, (D-Pueblo) 303.866.2581, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senator Al White, (R-Routt, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Garfield, Eagle), 303-866.2586, email@example.com
WE NEED TO BUILD STRONG COMMUNITY OPPOSITION. Any organization or faith community that would like to be added to the coalition of organizations opposing the opening of CSP II, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.