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.
Colorado`s constitution is ridiculously easy to change. To pollute our fundamental governing document with your own poorly written special-interest trash only requires convincing 50 percent of voters in one marketing blitz.
There may be some hidden benefits among this year`s Colorado ballot measures, but to make things easy and make a point I`m voting against them all.
The crème de la crème of over-the-top ballot issues is the group of Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101. Their sheer complexity is reason enough to reject them. Funded by people hiding in the shadows, the goal of these measures is nothing less than destroying state and local government in Colorado.
They would eliminate or drastically reduce the ability of the state and local governments to collect income, property, transportation, and telecommunications taxes and fees and to borrow money, even when voters approve doing so. The state would be forced to spend almost all remaining revenue on K-12 education. Everything else (including legally mandated services) would have to be eliminated or cut to almost nothing -- including transportation, higher education, prisons, police, fire, courts, water, sewer, recreation, and social services.
Imagine what will happen to the economy when businesses realize that, although taxes are low, the state is falling into disrepair and chaos. The backers, riding a wave of taxpayer anger, have created a scheme to return Colorado to the days of the Wild West.
More spending (new auditing and administrative requirements), less revenue, and no reduction in obligations: It`s no wonder even many fiscal conservatives have spoken out against these three.
Amendment 62 looks like an attempt to make abortion, stem cell research, and much contraception illegal. But by replacing one undefined term ("person") with another ("the beginning of the biological development of a human being") and assigning inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process based on that poorly defined phrase, it opens up so many issues that even many anti-abortion folks are opposed.
Amendment 63 adds "health care choice" as a constitutional right. You`d think it would be pro-health. However, its sole purpose is making a statement about the new federal health care law. It doesn`t keep anybody from having to comply with that law; it just creates a new, undefined constitutional right.
Proposition 102 takes away the ability of courts to release most defendants on unsecured bonds to pretrial services programs. It appears to be a bid by bail bondsmen for more revenue, but will end up costing taxpayers as more defendants wait in jail longer to fix something that isn`t broken.
The legislature referred three measures this year. Amendment P moves regulation of bingo and raffles from the Department of State to the Department of Revenue. Although perhaps more efficient, there is an overhead in moving a function which is already handled fine today.
Amendment Q allows the state government to be temporarily moved during an emergency. Most departments already have emergency plans, and I`m not sure how important this is.
Amendment R allows public land to be used for private benefit under $6,000 without paying property taxes. This economy is no time for the state to be looking for more tax cuts for small interest groups.