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, March 23, 2010

Coming prison closure adding to Walsenburg's woes - The Denver Post

Coming prison closure adding to Walsenburg's woes - The Denver Post

WALSENBURG — Workers at Duckwall's Hometown Variety Store here dismantled cabinets Thursday that days earlier were packed with everything from yarn to plumbing supplies to fishing gear.

Profits from the store, owned by a national chain, had evaporated in the past year. Now the town's second-biggest employer, the Huerfano County Correctional Center, was set to lay off 188 employees and close its doors April 2, making the store's prospects for a financial rebound unlikely.

After a 16-year run, Duckwall's did not renew its lease for the building on the corner of Sixth and Main streets, and so six more part-time employees in this southern Colorado town of about 4,000 — already hard hit by the recession —

lost their jobs.

"The economy of this town is zilch. The prison closing down is going to hurt," said Joe Kancilia, who owns a gun and furniture shop a few blocks west of Duckwall's.

Walsenburg is one of many small Colorado towns where privately run prisons drive the economy. But many states, including Colorado, are cutting their contracts with private jailers.

Corrections Corporation of America announced it would close the Walsenburg prison after Arizona said earlier this year that it was withdrawing all of its 700 inmates from the facility. On Monday, the last inmate was to climb aboard a bus headed for a newly constructed state-owned prison in Arizona.

The Huerfano prison, just east of Interstate 25, will remain closed until CCA enters a contract with Colorado — or with another state overflowing with prisoners and enough money to ship them to Walsenburg.

Prison population down

Colorado Department of Corrections spokeswoman Kath er ine Sanguinetti said Colorado's prison population is declining for the first time in decades and the state will fill its own prisons first. CCA is seeking a new contract but doesn't have any prospects yet, spokesman Steve Owen said.

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