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, March 12, 2010

Supermax Showdown: Don't confuse us with the facts...


Categories: Follow That Story
"We were lucky that day": Colorado Department of Corrections Sgt. Bill Nelson describes responding to a 2007 inmate attack on Limon staffer Pam Kahanic (left).
At first glance, the idea of tapping into the badly stretched state budget for a few million to open one wing of a new supermax prison doesn't seem all that loony.
After all, the Colorado Department of Corrections spent more than $200 million to build the new state pen, known in sequelspeak as CSP 2, before running out of money to operate it. And three recent inmate homicides in the system have been blamed on the DOC's "shortage" of administrative segregation beds, leaving ultraviolent maniacs and stone-cold killers to mingle with more cultured, genteel, peace-loving felons.
So putting more inmates into 23-hours-a-day lockdown should straighten things out, right?
Ah, if only the science of corrections was that simple. When lawmakers on the Joint Budget Committee sit down on Friday to consider the DOC's request for another $10.8 million to open part of CSP 2, they're going to find themselves in the crossfire of a complex argument about recidivism, mental illness and the staggering cost of locking down an ever-growing percentage of the prison population.
The basic pitch for moving ahead with the new supermax is that, thanks to budget cuts and increasing inmate violence, the system is becoming more dangerous for staff and inmates alike. At a press conference at the Capitol last week, corrections officers complained of low morale and faulty radios and grimly described the deteriorating situation at the Limon Correctional Facility. There, officer Eric Autobee was slain in 2002 and Pam Kahanic narrowly survived a throat-slashing by an inmate who took her hostage in 2007.
The officers were protesting a recent Republican attempt at across-the-board cuts to the DOC budget that would have slashed another 209 DOC employees, on top of the ninety lost in the past fiscal year. But the event was also a backhanded endorsement of CSP 2, which state representative Buffie McFadyen described as a "relief valve."
McFadyen conceded that the DOC is short on mental health services and that many of the current ad-seg inmates -- almost 40 percent, actually -- are classified as mentally ill. But, she said, "I can't deal with mental health issues of inmates if I don't have safety first."
Fair enough. But the coalition of groups rallying against CSP 2 -- including the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, and the Colorado chapter of the ACLU -- claim that, contrary to the DOC's assertions, supermax prisons don't make the rest of the system (or the public, for that matter) any safer. And they have some interesting data on their side.


Anonymous said...

The blonde wonder lady strikes again, telling us the DOC has the mentally ill locked down 23 hours in ad seg where those dangerous class 1 and 2 felons are supposed to be but no DOC puts them in general population.
The mentally ill shouldnt be locked up in a prison ad seg unit. I also dont understand how the blonde wonder see's a public safety hazard for people already in prison.

Anonymous said...

If you don't realize that people in prison are in danger you are very misinformed or naive.

Anonymous said...

So, how does DOC treat those that are mental cases and locked into CSP? They give them drugs, of course. Over 60% are given mind altering drugs such as wellbutrin. Then, once they have completed their supermax time, 23 hours a day in DOC's 23 hour a day, 24 hours on weekends, isolation cells. There is no human contact for years at a time. Inmates are chained like animals in a dungeon.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2 you missed the point. If the felon 1 and 2 people were locked away in ad seg and the mentally ill were in a treatment center where they should be, the prisons would be relativly safe. It seems to be prison mis-management. I suggest you go to and study how Colorado staff treats there prisoners. Its along the line of the cases in Idaho. You dont re habilitate people in prison by abusing them.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why there was no update that the JBC unanimously approved opening one tower at CSP II. I sent emails to all of them only to find out from one of them responding that it was approved.

It's very apparent as families of inmates that our votes and wishes mean nothing to our state government. We need to vote all of these people out of office and elect people with the balls to stand up to the CDOC!