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.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Widgets and snuzus - The Denver Post

Widgets and snuzus - The Denver Post

If Colorado lawmakers restructured how prisons operate, the system could pay for itself and actually benefit society further than just warehousing humans.

The present Colorado inmate workforce of 22,550 prisoners costs taxpayers an average of $30,000 per year to house a single offender. At $755 million, the Colorado Department of Corrections budget is the third largest expenditure for Colorado taxpayers.

Just imagine if two-thirds of the prisoners created more revenue than it costs to house them. There would be additional monies for other areas of state government, and much-needed funds for when prisoners are released.

This is achievable. How?

Inmates could manufacture, service, and sell widgets and snuzus.

What are widgets and snuzus, you wonder?

Widgets and snuzus are a hot commodity, only we aren't producing or marketing them any longer — we are making them abroad.

Due to rising corporate taxes, increased wages, and towering costs of benefits widgets and snuzu companies are leaving Colorado and the U.S. for foreign countries like Mexico, Malaysia and India every day.

What do they make and sell? Everything, you name it: pencils, toys, electronics, bicycle helmets, telemarketing customer service, etc.

But what if we could offer a few of these companies the very advantages they were seeking overseas, here at home, with an eager supply of employees?

DOC director Ari Zavaras has been complaining that violence is on the rise in Colorado prisons. His only solution was more money to partially staff a new maximum security prison.

The majority of Colorado prisoners sleep all morning, play cards all day, and exercise. If they are lucky, they are given a 15-minute task, for which they earn 60 cents a day to pay for their hygiene, restitution, and save for their release.

Given the chance to earn a real income, even a meager income, most prisoners would flock to the opportunity.

Colorado has 24 adult prisons. Each prison would work in conjunction with a contracted medium-sized company that would build their facilities right on prison grounds. Two-thirds of the prisoners would work for the company, the other third would work for the prison itself doing the cooking, laundry, maintenance and schooling. The convicts would receive prevailing wages of at least minimum wage, and the state and private company would split the profits.

This would reduce overall corrections spending from the state budget, and free up revenue for more vital core programs like education and health care.

Profit margins would be substantial. The private companies would not have to provide benefits, wages would be low, and there would be tax breaks. This is a win-win situation.

The biggest winner of all would be the public. Crime would actually be reduced.

As these prisoners are released with savings and good work habits, no doubt, a greater percentage of them would succeed. And dare say, we might actually have to close some prisons.

It's time Colorado lawmakers start thinking outside the box — a box of widgets and snuzus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

two problems, unfair competition between the public and private sector and also the big constitutional issue of slavery? djw