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, August 04, 2010

ACLU sues Boulder County to ease curbs on prisoners' letters - The Denver Post

ACLU sues Boulder County to ease curbs on prisoners' letters - The Denver Post

Ever since a couple of inmates accused of sexual assault sent letters from the Boulder County jail to underage girls, jail officials decided to change their policy on prisoner correspondence.

Since March, inmates may no longer send enveloped letters out of the jail except legal mail to their attorneys or mail that is deemed official business — such as banking or medical correspondence, said Cmdr. Bruce Haas.

Otherwise, prisoners may only send a single 9-by-5 1/2-inch postcard, which can be read by anyone who sees it.

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado filed a federal lawsuit against Boulder County on behalf of five prisoners who say their free-speech rights are being violated.

"Gay prisoners have been chilled from expressing themselves when writing to their intimate partners," the lawsuit says. "Prisoners with HIV or hepatitis C have been chilled from corresponding with medical personnel or with family members or intimate associates about their medical conditions."

The lawsuit also says inmates who normally communicate through drawings or cartoons are unable to send art on the postcards. The policy prevents inmates from privately communicating with religious leaders, such as priests or imams, the suit says.

"When children may have access to the mailbox, parents are chilled from communicating with their spouses about marital problems, child-raising issues, and other matters they do not wish to disclose to their children," the suit says.

Haas said if inmates need to communicate with the media or send sensitive information that requires privacy, it can be considered "official mail" and won't fall under the postcard policy.

"It is not our intent to circumvent the inmates' ability to correspond," Haas said. "It is our way to control third-party mailings."

Boulder County is not the only jurisdiction using postcard mailings in jails. The idea to implement the policy came from the Pacific Northwest, Haas said, and he expects other jails in Colorado will adopt similar policies for public-safety reasons.

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