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.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Suit argues all defendants deserve counsel from the start - The Denver Post

Suit argues all defendants deserve counsel from the start - The Denver Post

Colorado's long-standing practice of withholding public lawyers from defendants in minor cases until after they have considered a plea deal is now being challenged in federal court.

The practice, enacted in a 1992 state statute, is the subject of a suit filed in Denver's U.S. District Court by Colorado's Criminal Defense Bar and the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

The two nonprofit organizations argue in the suit, filed against the governor's office, that the practice violates the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

Colorado is the only state with a law that, in effect, requires indigent defendants to go without legal representation until an effort at a plea agreement with a prosecutor is made.

If the defendant can't reach an agreement with the prosecutor or does not want to negotiate, he or she can request an attorney.

The law was passed because it was seen as a cost-cutting measure when the Colorado public defender asked for more money from the legislature to handle its growing case load.

Although the cases affected by the statute are not felonies, they can have serious consequences.

"It impacts a group who don't have money to hire a lawyer," said Lisa Wayne, a Colorado attorney and president-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Defendants may learn from a prosecutor that they are not seeking a jail sentence and see the offer as a great deal, but they don't realize there are consequences down the line.

Read more: Suit argues all defendants deserve counsel from the start - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16812574#ixzz17cadS2No
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse

No comments: