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.
The Smithsonian Institution's "Between Fences" traveling exhibit series, spotlighting life in small towns, evokes picket fences and garden rock walls for many.
But for Calvin Ford and thousands of fellow inmates living in prisons in Cañon City, the exhibit's latest destination, the theme takes on new meaning.
"All I see is barbed wire," said Ford, who won first place in a Colorado Department of Corrections art competition in conjunction with the Museum on Main Street project.
More than 100 inmates from across Colorado entered art, poetry and essay contests.
In Ford's entry, a diving eagle superimposed over a waving American flag is clasping rolled razor wire that pokes through the flag. It won him first place and $20 for the prison store.
Ford, 28, who was born on the Navajo reservation near Farmington, N.M., learned to draw from his grandmother, who made Navajo rugs.
His prison term for felony trespassing ends in October. Meantime, drawing helps him overcome the monotony of prison.
"I think about freedom a lot," he said. "I hope this is my last time in prison."
Cañon City, where Territorial Correctional Facility and six other prisons are located, has been a prison town for almost 140 years. It is the birthplace of Colorado Corrections and the Colorado Museum of Prisons, said Katherine Sanguinetti, Department of Corrections spokeswoman.
The Smithsonian and Colorado Humanities co-sponsor the exhibit running until Oct. 23.
Much of the poetry and writing is dark, including a piece by Phillip Zuniga called "The Devil's Playground."
"The devil was given permission one day to build a playground in his own special way. He chose the roughest terrain he could find. Full of rattlesnakes and scorpions combined. Then he surrounded the whole place with barbed wire, fences and towers where he placed trigger-happy demons twenty-four hours."
Other inmates found reason
Jacob Ind, who planned the murder of his mother, Pamela Jordan, and stepfather, Kermode Jordan, on Dec. 17, 1992, when he was 15, claiming to be a molestation victim, wrote in an essay of waking in a maximum-security prison.
"I saw the fences as menacing barriers preventing me from . . . being the man I was meant to be, keeping me from being a child once again. And then I saw the birds.
"When I began to notice the birds, ultimate symbols of freedom, willingly abiding in an environment designed to deprive people of freedom, my perception began to change . . . ."
"The only true fence, the only fence which can constrain us, is the fence we erect within ourselves and the barriers of our own construct."