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.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Investigation underway after man, 56, dies while in custody at Denver's new jail - The Denver Post

Investigation underway after man, 56, dies while in custody at Denver's new jail - The Denver Post

Denver police are investigating the death of an inmate at 3:30 a.m. Friday at the new downtown jail after an incident involving the use of force by sheriff's deputies.

The inmate, Marvin Louis Booker, 56, of Denver, had been arrested about 1 a.m. Friday on suspicion of drug-paraphernalia possession at East 37th Avenue and Williams Street.

Booker was in the intake room, an open seating area, of the new Van Cise-Simonet Detention Facility when the incident occurred, said Denver sheriff's Capt. Frank Gale.

A female sheriff's officer was treated and released for injuries she suffered in the incident, Gale said. No deputies have been suspended from duty, he said.

Gale did not say how many deputies were involved in the incident.

Booker was taken to Denver Health Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 4:33 a.m., according to the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner. The office will perform an autopsy.

"I don't know if he was breathing when he left the jail or not," Gale said.

Booker's cousin, George Booker, said the family was still trying early Friday evening to obtain information about Marvin Booker's death. His parents, he said, had been notified but were still unsure their son had died.

Gale said in-custody deaths are automatically investigated as crimes, and he could not release further information about the incident.

Denver police, with the deputy district attorney and a chief deputy district attorney, are investigating.

However, Denver police will not comment on any aspect of the case, Lt. Matt Murray said. The sheriff's department is handling all media inquiries, he said.

DA spokeswoman Lynn Kimbrough said it is expected that the investigation and review will take several weeks.

Booker had a record of drug-related arrests. He also had arrests for disorderly conduct, trespass, loitering, disturbing the peace, carrying a concealed weapon and threatening assault. Many charges against him were ultimately dismissed by the court, but by 2000 he was classified in court records as a habitual criminal.

The $159 million Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center, at 490 W. Colfax Ave., was hailed at its dedication April 14 as a national model that would enable authorities to operate in "a safe, humane and secure environment," said then-Corrections Director William Lovingier.

The most recent previous death of an inmate in custody at a Denver jail was the 2006 death of Emily Rice, 24, who bled to death in jail from injuries sustained in a drunken-driving crash. She had been released from the hospital.

Denver Health and the city of Denver settled separately with Rice's family in 2008 for a total of about $7 million over the claims that her fatal injuries went undetected at the hospital and jailers ignored her cries for help.

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