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, August 24, 2010

Denver City Council to review trends of litigation over police use of force - The Denver Post

Denver City Council to review trends of litigation over police use of force - The Denver Post

The Denver City Council, concerned about the pace of lawsuits alleging excessive force by police officers, has initiated a review of litigation trends over the past five years.

The city's safety department, which oversees the Police Department, and the city attorney's office will report findings to the council Sept. 14 during a council committee meeting.

"It does seem like there has been a proliferation of these claims lately," Councilman Charlie Brown said Monday as the council approved paying out $20,000 to settle another federal lawsuit alleging excessive force by police.

In that lawsuit, James Watkins, 20, alleged he told two police officers that "cops suck" while walking downtown last year. He said Sgt. Randy Penn and Denver police Technician John Ruddy then beat him after he took out a cellphone to record them.

In court documents, the lawyers for the city said Watkins, who had a felony record, was intoxicated that night and "chest bumped" Penn. Watkins was charged with second-degree assault on a police officer, but prosecutors later dismissed the charge.

The city annually sets aside $2 million in a litigation fund to handle such claims. In a typical year, the city spends about $500,000 out of that fund, according to preliminary estimates from Deputy Safety Manager Mel Thompson.

"It's unfortunate the kind of circumstances that have arisen in the media and that are filling the airwaves," said Councilman Paul Lopez.

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