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, May 25, 2010

Gov. Ritter signs bundle of bills to promote rehabilitation of criminals - The Denver Post

Gov. Ritter signs bundle of bills to promote rahabilitation of criminals - The Denver Post

Gov. Bill Ritter today will sign several bills that aim to lessen punishment for criminals and promote rehabilitation among the convicted.
Curbing the rate at which criminals reoffend has been part of Ritter's agenda since taking office, but this year was the first that he and bipartisan allies targeted controversial topics such as sentencing and parole reform to pay for it.
Jailing fewer low-level drug offenders, diverting more criminals to community programs and paroling inmates more often could save more than $91 million over five years — though critics doubt the estimate — and fund an array of treatment programs, according to legislative estimates.
Colorado joins several other states in shifting limited resources from containment to treatment, though critics say the changes endanger public safety by tinkering with a system that works.
Ritter said enhancing treatment options is the best way to ensure criminals snared by the justice system emerge productive members of society.
"The attitude has been 'Just lock them up.' We've really seen violent crime decrease over time, but the downside is we weren't ... spending time considering these are actually health issues and public safety issues," the Democratic governor said. "This is the biggest year in terms of a major policy shift. The sentencing policy is a more difficult nut to crack. Always has been."
Lowering penalties
The biggest bills came from the Ritter-convened Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, a mix of prosecutors, public defenders, law enforcement, human services officials, lawmakers and other advocates.
Ritter pointed to the lowering of penalties for some drug offenses as the epitome of the philosophical shift afoot in the state's criminal justice system.
House Bill 1352 increases the amount of drugs a person can posses before facing jail time, instead diverting offenders to substance-abuse treatment centers paid for by the savings on avoiding incarceration.
Other bills that passed with bipartisan support ease parole restrictions, emptying more prison beds and instead paying for services that aid those on probation and help recently released inmates find housing and employment.
House Bill 1360 lessens penalties for parolees who make technical violations. House Bill 1338, makes it easier for people previously convicted of two or more nonviolent felonies to obtain parole. And House Bill 1374 increases the amount of time off their sentences that well-behaved inmates can earn for each month served.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey favors treatment, but he predicts the reforms will make the streets less safe by allowing drug dealers to peddle greater quantities and put people back on the street before they're ready.

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