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.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Force-fed Confession Only Evidence

The Denver Post
I'll keep writing about the case against Tyler Sanchez until someone in Douglas County speaks out about People's Exhibit #1.
Sanchez, 19, will face trial for a break-in and sexual assault that common sense and a motherlode of evidence suggest he didn't commit.
The system failed him when Parker police hauled him in last summer, ostensibly related to a string of burglaries in the Stonegate neighborhood.
It failed him again when — ignoring signs that he is hearing-impaired and mentally disabled— sheriff's deputies turned the questioning into a 17-hour interrogation about the unsolved assault. An 8-year-old reported being fondled by an intruder who climbed through a second-story window of her family's home in the housing tract a week earlier.
It kept failing him when prosecutors continued pressing charges despite serious holes in the case described by Judge Susanna Meissner- Cutler as "contradictions," "inconsistencies" and "speculations." Among those is the fact that the thin redhead looks nothing like the older, bigger, brown-haired intruder described by the victim. Oh, and that DA Carol Chambers asserts that nothing is proved by the fact that DNA analysis of the girl's panties — the key physical evidence — shows the profiles of two men, neither of them Sanchez. She also disputes that he is cognitively delayed.
The system further failed him Wednesday, when the judge ruled he must face trial based solely on a

single piece of highly questionable evidence. People's Exhibit #1 is an 11-sentence statement Sanchez wrote after detectives broke him down 37 hours after his arrest. Sentence by sentence, it parrots the detectives, echoing verbatim details they admit they repeatedly fed him during their interrogation.
"First when I got off work from a bad night I decide to go chill out and drive around in my car for a little while," it starts.

Human Error To Blame In Hudson Riot

CBS Denver 

Guard Error Led To Alaska Uprising At Colo. Prison

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) ― The company that operates a Colorado prison for Alaska inmates said an error by a guard led to an uprising at the Hudson Correctional Facility.

A correctional officer in a central area electronically unlocked the cells of 41 inmates, Cornell Companies spokesman Charles Seigel told The Anchorage Daily News on Thursday. The mistake at 1:20 a.m. on April 14 allowed prisoners into corridors of the segregation unit, which holds problem inmates.

At least eight prisoners refused to go back into their cells and attempted to break into an office where two guards had barricaded themselves. A prison tactical team ended the disturbance six hours later. Some inmates suffered minor injuries.

The guard responsible for the breach has resigned. Seigel said he thought at least a couple of the instigators in the disturbance had been moved to a Colorado state prison.

The prison at Hudson, about 25 miles northeast of Denver, opened in November and holds about 900 inmates, all from Alaska. Cornell is looking into making improvements in the security system, Seigel said.

Corrections officials from Colorado and Alaska also have been investigating what happened.

Colorado's private prison monitoring unit and inspector general's office are involved, said Monica Crocker, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

HB 1201 Is Signed Into Law (Consent To Search)

The Bill
16-3-310. Oral advisement and written consent prior to search
of a vehicle or a person during a police contact. (1) (a) PRIOR TO


We Can't Tell You Why

The Census Bureau is hiring a million or more people to assist with the 2010 count. It is temporary work, but it pays well. With national unemployment at nearly 10 percent, it looks like an excellent opportunity. That is unless you are one of the nearly 50 million Americans with any arrest or conviction on record.
A new class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of applicants who say they were unfairly turned down for census jobs based on an opaque screening policy that relies on F.B.I. checks for any criminal histories. Those checks are notoriously unreliable. A 2006 federal report found that half of them were inaccurate or out of date.
The Census Bureau is vague about what makes someone ineligible. In Congressional testimony, it suggested that it is excluding people who have been convicted of crimes involving violence and dishonesty. The bureau’s Web site seems to say that applicants whose background checks turn up any arrest — no matter how trivial, distant in time, irrelevant to the job — receive a letter advising them that they can remain eligible only if they produce “official court documentation” bearing on the case within 30 days. Incredibly, the letter does not identify the alleged criminal activity. Applicants must prove eligibility, even if they don’t know why they were flagged.
Official court records are often unobtainable for the millions of people whose convictions have been sealed or expunged or for people who have been arrested and released because of lack of evidence or mistaken arrest. This problem falls heaviest on black and Hispanic communities where stop-and-frisk policies and indiscriminate arrests are common.
The hiring problem is not limited to the Census Bureau. After 9/11, Congress required port workers to undergo F.B.I. background checks to keep their jobs. Last year, a study by the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group for workers, found that the government had mistakenly denied credentials to tens of thousands of those workers.
States and cities are wisely revising employment policies. The federal government needs to develop a fair and transparent screening system for job applicants and a more effective appeals process. Congress must also require the F.B.I. to verify the criminal records — and find missing data before issuing background checks.

Prison's "Education Row" A Boon For Inmates

The Denver Channel
Long dubbed "Old Max," Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility sits quietly on the outskirts of Canon City. Built in 1871, CTCF has never been closed at any time, and renovations have many inmates looking forward to new classroom space in the near future.
"About 95 percent of our inmates will one day be back in our neighborhoods," said Administrative Services Manager Mary Ann Aldrich. "So it's worth our time and energy to do what we can to give them educational skills, vocational certificates, apprenticeships; whatever we can do to help them be able to make a good living whenever they get out." With the focus on being able to make positive transitions back into the community, the educational programs through CTCF have waiting lists. One building on CTCF grounds houses a line of classrooms called "education row," with five to six classes going twice a day for about three hours each. Anthony Johnson, who has another nine months on his sentence, said he is trying to take advantage of as many classes as he can. "I take a couple of college courses through Adams State," said Johnson, who takes evening courses in algebra and environmental science. "They send teachers here. I'm tired of the tough guy career. I'm trying to do something to make my family and myself proud. I'm trying to be more of a positive role-model for my peers." In addition to his college courses, Johnson spends the morning in educator Becky Kelly's health class. He plans to go into the cosmetology courses in the near future. After the recent closure of the women's prison, the cosmetology program was moved into the men's prison, and has received popular appraisal among the inmates who are waiting for a new saloon-style classroom. "This is the first cosmo program in a men's prison," said instructor Rebecca Roller. "It is exactly like the course taught at PCC or any other cosmetology courses. Once these guys are done, they'll be able to go to the state board and get a provisional license. It's a very good incentive program." Both the culinary arts and cosmetology programs within CTCF are self-supporting. Culinary arts instructor Russ Crawford has been with CTCF five years and works with a dozen students up to 35 hours a week for their 10 college credits through Pueblo Community College. "This is a part of the segment of the job market that's increasing. They always need cooks and food service," Crawford said. "And, they take great pride in doing a good job. The biggest thing for us is to get them thinking along those lines. When they do graduate, they are so proud and that's why we have a graduation ceremony." Waiting times for the classes are not necessarily based on a first-come basis. Often, an inmate with a closer release date will be moved to the top of the list in order to prepare them for the transition. Health class student David Brumbley said he is hoping to get into other classes, but with a 2025 possible release date, he knows his wait is longer. "I'd love to get into computer class, but my out date is too far away right now," Brumbley said. "There's people getting out sooner, which it will help, so they give them priority. It makes sense. I don't like it, but it makes sense." CTCF also offers courses or vocational programming in janitorial, plumbing, electrical, construction, landscaping, canine training, adult basic education and GED. Colorado Correctional industries programs are those which have to produce money, such as the license plate manufacturing and the canine training program. "It would be great to have more," Kelly said. "But with the budget, we're lucky to have the teachers we have. Luckily, we have a governor that's pro-programs. The more education you have when you leave, the better your chances are of not coming back." Those students who complete a certificate program often use their skills within CTCF during their time. "If you look at the statistics of men's facilities," Johnson said, "men who are in an educational program that suits them and interests them are less prone to get into risky or violent behavior."

Milgram's Obedience To Authority Experiments

Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority experiments remain one of the most
inspired contributions in the field of social psychology. Although Milgram undertook
more than 20 experimental variations, his most (in)famous result was the first official
trial run – the remote condition and its 65% completion rate. Drawing on many
unpublished documents from Milgram’s personal archive at Yale University, this article
traces the historical origins and early evolution of the obedience experiments. Part 1
presents the previous experiences that led to Milgram’s conception of his rudimentary
research idea and then details the role of his intuition in its refinement. Part 2 traces
the conversion of Milgram’s evolving idea into a reality, paying particular attention to
his application of the exploratory method of discovery during several pilot studies.
Both parts illuminate Milgram’s ad hoc introduction of various manipulative techniques
and subtle tension-resolving refinements. The procedural adjustments continued
until Milgram was confident that the first official experiment would produce a high
completion rate, a result contrary to expectations of people’s behaviour. Showing how
Milgram conceived of, then arrived at, this first official result is important because the
insights gained may help others to determine theoretically why so many participants
completed this experiment.

Down Prison Road


Chowchilla, California - High in the mountains overlooking Bakersfield and the south end of the San Joaquin Valley is a piece of California's past, the California Correctional Institution, or as inmates know it, Tehachapi.
It was one of the state's first big prisons, built at the height of the Great Depression in 1933 to contain the unraveling social fabric of Hoovervilles, high unemployment, a vast influx of Dust Bowl refugees, and left-wing political movements spreading like wildfire.
The penitentiary spreads across 1,650 acres of a remote desert valley. Designed for 2,785 inmates, it now holds 5,806 - 200% of an already inhumane standard. And while it was built as the original California Institute for Women, today its only inhabitants are men.
Jazzman Art Pepper, son of a Los Angeles longshoreman, lived in its cells for four and a half years in the 1950s. Like Pepper, today's prison inmates are mostly there because of drugs. Pepper would have recognized them for another reason. Tehachapi's inmates are almost all Black and Latino, like the rest of California's prisoners, and have been since the prison system began. And poor.
While Tehachapi was mentioned in "The Maltese Falcon," people like Hammett's middle-class grifters don't normally wind up there. Having no money is practically a requirement for residence.
When teachers and home-care workers rallied down below in Bakersfield on March 5, and kicked off the March for California's Future, few had more than a vague idea of the kind of presence Tehachapi and its fellow institutions would cast over them as they walked up the San Joaquin Valley to Sacramento. They then spent 48 days in a traveling protest over the extreme budget cuts that have cost the jobs of thousands of California teachers, and threaten those of thousands of other public workers.

Record Number Seek President's Clemency

USA Today
WASHINGTON — President Obama has received more
petitions for pardons and shorter prison sentences
than previous presidents at this point in office, and
he hasn't approved a single one.

Obama has already logged 2,361 clemency
petitions, according to the Justice Department. He
also faces a backlog of 2,173 old requests, a legacy
of a system that civil rights groups and conservative
jurists say has fallen into disuse.

Not since Gerald Ford, who approved more than
150 clemency petitions in his first year in office, has
a president granted mercy more than 10 times early
in his tenure.
George W. Bush and Bill Clinton each
waited about two years to approve a pardon or
shorten a prison sentence, records show.

"The incredibly pernicious political atmosphere
makes it difficult for even a president who wanted to
use the power," says Daniel Kobil, a professor at

Capital University
Law School in Columbus, Ohio.

HOPING FOR CLEMENCY: Convict seeks reduction in
crack penalty

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

MMJ: Sensible Colorado Ready With Ballot Measure

Today at 2 p.m., the public will be able to comment as House Bill 1284 reaches a senate committee.
It's sure to be a contentious session, since even pro-regulation advocates like Matt Brown see the latest version of the measure as regressive, and Senator Chris Romer is eager to add controversial amendments like one that bans everyone 21-and-under from dispensaries and envisions licensing fees of up to $35,000.
As for Sensible Colorado head Brian Vicente, he has assembled a medical-marijuana-industry ballot initiative that he'll withhold if the final measure is to his liking. And if not? "We're ready to hit the ground and gather signatures as needed," he says.
Vicente feels lawmakers "went over the top with discriminating against people with prior criminal records and preventing them from taking part in this new health-care field. It's my understanding that you're ineligible if you had any drug felony, including possession, ever, and that's just wildly overly prejudicial. You could have someone who was growing a single marijuana plant back in the '70s to help someone deal with cancer -- and if they were convicted, they wouldn't be eligible to engage in this industry thirty years later. I think they've gone way too far in that provision, and they're not reflective of societal norms.
"Today, we have medical marijuana laws in place and taken many activities that used to be crimes and completely legitimized them. And now we're saying that people who were using marijuana medically fifteen years ago or more are forever ineligible to take part in this program?"
In addition, the rejiggered bill gives municipalities the right to ban dispensaries. "That's a really difficult sticking point for Sensible Colorado," Vicente says. "Banning dispensaries is the equivalent of banning pharmacies in Colorado. I think patients should have convenient access to medicine and not have to take a bus out of town to get their doctor-sanctioned medicine."
One way cities can ban dispensaries is to put the question on the ballot -- something Vicente might be able to accept. But he's distressed at the prospect that "a city council can ban dispensaries, like Aurora has. You've got overly conservative council members there who are voting to discriminate against the minority, which is poor, sick patients -- and they shouldn't have the power to deny these individuals access to health care without a full vote of the people in that community."
Of course, these aspects of the bill can still be removed. Should they remain, Vicente is prepared to formally launch his initiative.
"We're seeing more restrictions being pushed by some legislators and, frankly, by the governor's office -- and their chief concern doesn't seem to be looking out for patients. I think they're coming more from a law-enforcement standpoint.
"That's one of the reasons why we're closely watching this legislation move forward and reserving the right to go to the people."

Bill Targeting Substance Abuse Make Sense.

The Coloradoan

Bipartisan legislation that takes steps to redefine
substance abuse as a public health concern rather
than a criminal offense makes sense for offenders,
families and taxpayers alike.

Colorado House Bill 1352, which passed the House
last week and is expected to be taken up in the
Senate today, contains two important elements:

> It realigns state law to fairly reflect what the
judicial system already has aimed to do - direct
drug offenders who are primarily users and addicts
to community intervention programs rather than to
jail or prison. The drug sentencing reform bill does
this by reducing the crime of drug use from a Class
6 felony to a Class 2 misdemeanor. If evidence
exists that even a small amount of drugs were
possessed with intent to distribute, prosecutors can
still file a criminal charge of drug distribution.

> And the legislation requires cost savings from
this bill to be evaluated annually by the Division of
Criminal Justice, which will file a report with the
state Legislature's Joint Budget Committee. The bill
requires the Legislature to appropriate savings
generated by the bill to the Drug Offender Treatment
Fund. Stakeholders will develop a plan for treatment
of substance abuse or co-occurring disorders to
ensure consistent treatment approaches.

Bill Would Close Prison But Which One

The Chieftain

DENVER — A bill introduced in the state Legislature Monday would close a state-run prison by Nov. 1.

Under HB1421, a prison with a capacity of at least 500 beds would be shuttered, with at least 20 percent of the savings redirected during the fiscal year 2010-11 to recidivism-reduction programs at private prisons.

The director of the Colorado Department of Corrections would determine which prison would close.

The bill cites the state's decreased revenue and its reduction in prison population as factors driving the proposal. It has bipartisan sponsorship from party leadership in the House, with House Majority Leader Paul Weissmann, D-Louisville, and House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker, as its co-sponsors.

It comes on the heels of a $10 million budget provision for the same fiscal year to open a portion of Colorado State Penitentiary II to house more than 300 prisoners.

Monday, April 26, 2010

More changes in store for medical marijuana rules - The Denver Post

More changes in store for medical marijuana rules - The Denver Post
DENVER—State lawmakers are close to cracking down on shady doctors who are writing medical marijuana recommendations but, with just about two weeks to go, they're still trying to figure out how—and whether—to regulate dispensaries.

A proposal to license dispensaries, require owners to undergo criminal background checks and to grow most of the marijuana they sell (House Bill 1284) is set to get its first hearing in the Senate on Tuesday. Sponsor Sen. Chris Romer, D-Denver, thinks about 80 percent of the estimated 1,000 dispensaries in the state wouldn't be able to pass muster and would have to close. He believes about 200 dispensaries would be enough to provide medical marijuana to the estimated 100,000 people entitled to use the drug legally.

"My intention is to get the thugs and the knuckleheads out of the business," said Romer, who wants to set the license application fees at between $10,000 and $35,000 depending on the size of the dispensary.

He also plans to make more changes to the regulations including barring those under 21 from entering dispensaries and prevent people from out-of-state moving to Colorado to open a dispensary. The current slate of regulations has already approved by the House so any more amendments made in the Senate would have to go back to the House for another vote.

Meanwhile, a group of Republican lawmakers wants to ask voters to just ban dispensaries altogether. Their proposed referendum would require that only actual people—not shops—be able to provide medical marijuana to patients and that those caregivers also help patients with the daily necessities of life. They need to get support from two-thirds of lawmakers to get it on the ballot.

Prosecutors and Attorney General John Suthers have been urging lawmakers not to regulate dispensaries because they say that will legitimize an industry that they say wasn't sanctioned under the medical marijuana law passed by voters in 2000. Backers of Amendment 20 point out that the law does reference dispensing of the drug.

Lawmakers are close to passing a less controversial measure (Senate Bill 109) that bars doctors from writing medical marijuana recommendations if their medical license isn't active or has been restricted by regulators of if they've lost their federal certification to prescribe drugs.

Ned Calonge, the state's chief medical officer, said about 15 doctors have written about 80 percent of the medical marijuana licenses and seven of them have restricted licenses. The medical marijuana registry is confidential and he says that has kept him from referring any cases to the medical examiners' board for investigation. He said the bill will make it clear that he can ask the board to investigate and allow him to turn over records with patient information redacted.

Many dispensaries want lawmakers to pass regulations for their shops, both to legitimize their industry and protect them from possible federal drug raids. However, smaller operators fear the current proposal that they grow 70 percent of their pot themselves will drive them out of business. Lawmakers say the limit will make it easier to track sales to ensure that they're legal.

In the middle are patients, whom advocates say are being forgotten in the rush to get a handle of dispensaries.

The proposed regulations would allow cities to ban dispensaries within their boundaries. City councils or voters could approve such a ban. Anyone who has been convicted of a drug felony would be barred from running a dispensary.

SB 189 SB 179 and HB 1352 Both Advance

Both Syringe Exchange and the Drug Sentencing Reform bill passed out of their respective committees unanimously. Thank you goes out to Senators Mitchell and Steadman. SB 179 passed 2nd reading today in the Senate. The bill proposes to restore the voting rights of people paroled from felony convictions, and facilitate the voting rights of eligible voters in the criminal justice system.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prison To Adapt To Mental Illness

Statesman Journal
Nearly half of Oregon's 14,000 prisoners — 6,797 — are mentally ill, according to the Department of Corrections.

This troubling convict population has boomed during the past decade and now is 10 times larger than the mental patient population at the 627-bed Oregon State Hospital in Salem.
Alarmed by the rising number of mentally ill convicts, prison officials plan to create a new multipurpose mental health center at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem, just south of the state hospital.
The penitentiary's "super max" unit, officially called the Intensive Management Unit, will be converted into three therapy-minded units.
For two decades, the IMU has operated as a tightly controlled compound within the now-2,000-inmate prison. It corrals belligerent and disruptive inmates — some mentally ill — in their cells for more than 23 hours per day.
By the end of this year, the two-story IMU facility will get a facelift to soften its austere environment, and will begin serving a therapeutic role.
"With the types of programs we want to bring in there, we need to bring in some acoustic sound proofing and lighten it up with some paint," said Brian Belleque, DOC administrator for the west side institutions.
Mental health services are planned for three of the four units in the IMU building:

Don't Call It Pot In These Circles--It's A Profession

As more and more states allow medical use of the drug, and California considers outright legalization, marijuana’s supporters are pushing hard to burnish the image of pot by franchising dispensaries and building brands; establishing consulting, lobbying and law firms; setting up trade shows and a seminar circuit; and constructing a range of other marijuana-related businesses.
Boosters say it is all part of a concerted effort to trade the drug’s trippy, hippie counterculture past for what they believe will inevitably be a more buttoned-up future.
“I don’t possess a Nehru jacket, I’ve never grown a goatee, I’ve never grown my hair past the nape of my neck,” Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said. “And I don’t like patchouli.”
Steve DeAngelo, the president of CannBe — a marketing, lobbying and consulting firm here — will not even use the word “marijuana.” Calling it pejorative, he prefers the scientific term “cannabis.”
“We want to make it safe, seemly and responsible,” Mr. DeAngelo said of marijuana.

Prison Trout Farm Growing

BUENA VISTA — Inmates have been tending trout at the medium-security prison in Buena Vista for 24 years but a streamlined operation has increased production and landed a deal from a major natural foods retailer.   Colorado Correctional Industries, already known for its organic tilapia raised at the East Canon Prison Complex in Canon City, now makes fresh rainbow trout available for sale by Whole Foods markets in Colorado.
  Correctional Industries took over the Buena Vista trout operation in 1990.
   Production of 65,000 rainbow trout annually has increased to 200,000 thanks to expansion and improved practices.
  Eight inmates work at the Buena Vista trout farm, said Jim Heaston, Correctional Industries agricultural operations manager.
   The inmates start out by hatching the fish eggs in hatching jars before the tiny trout, also known as fry, are released to grow in outdoor flow-through cement ponds.
  Once they reach the size of about half a pound, or 6-inches in length, some of the 5-month-old trout are purchased by the Colorado Division of Wildlife for release into Colorado's lakes and streams.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Prison Moms

Huffington Post

Imagine awaiting the birth of your child from a jail cell. That's a reality for countless women around the country, sentenced for a crime while pregnant. Another reality: once they deliver, chances are they'll be separated from their child within hours as the baby is taken to relatives or foster care. When you're a pregnant inmate, you can't exactly keep your baby with you in prison. Or can you?

Sharlene Henry, 29, was pregnant when sentenced to seven-years for criminal possession of a controlled substance. The thought of having her baby in prison was so devastating that she almost decided not to. She scheduled an appointment to end the pregnancy, but ultimately couldn't do it. As fate would have it, Henry was sentenced to New York's Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. The prison houses the country's oldest prison nursery, a program allowing non-violent offenders with relatively short sentences to keep their babies for up to 18 months. Now, Henry is raising seven-month old Delilah with her in prison, a crib right there in the cell.
Prison nurseries are a new trend emerging in the criminal justice system. There are nine nurseries nationwide and more than half have opened in the last 15 years. They're partly a result of a new sense of social responsibility and the Department of Corrections' desire to keep families intact. But they are also the result of sheer numbers: there are more women in prison than ever before, and more need for programs like these.
I visited two nurseries for my special report "Mara Schiavocampo Reports: Mothers Behind Bars." At Bedford Hills, where I met Sharlene and Delilah Henry, there are nine babies, as well as a few women waiting to give birth. The wing where the infants live looks typically institutional; fluorescent lights, linoleum flooring, mint green walls.

40,000 Calif. drug cases could face review due to scandal - The case of a crime lab technician suspected of stealing cocaine booked as evidence may force reviews

40,000 Calif. drug cases could face review due to scandal - The case of a crime lab technician suspected of stealing cocaine booked as evidence may force reviews

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — As many as 40,000 San Francisco drug cases handled by Deborah Madden, the former police laboratory technician suspected of stealing cocaine booked as evidence, may need to be reviewed and it's going to take money to do it, Public Defender Jeff Adachi told a Board of Supervisors' committee Monday.

"We're being deluged with calls from people in prison, asking us to review their cases," Adachi said after a morning-long hearing on the police crime-lab scandal. He already has asked the mayor's office for money to hire two more people to help deal with the load.

"There's a substantial amount of work that needs to be done," Adachi said.

The 40,000 cases is a matter of simple math, the public defender added: Madden was questioned about 4 grams of cocaine missing from evidence she handled in 2005, so every case she handled since then should be suspect.

Conflict of interest?
Adachi also slammed the conduct of both the police and the district attorney's office, arguing that neither agency can fairly investigate Madden when her job for 29 years was to help police and prosecutors.

They have a vested interest in minimizing her criminal involvement so that fewer drug cases get tossed out, Adachi said.

"Why should the district attorney be in charge of prosecuting one of their star witnesses?" Adachi asked after the hearing. "She testified every day for them in court. They were in the business of bolstering her credibility."

He also complained that the police were dragging their feet by refusing to file charges against Madden quickly.

"I've never seen a stronger case," Adachi said.

Back off, Gascón says
Police Chief George Gascón rejected any suggestion that his department should pass the Madden case to the state Department of Justice or another agency.

"It's putting the cart before the horse" to say the San Francisco Police Department shouldn't be investigating the matter, the chief said at a news conference.

"I was brought in to fix this Police Department," said Gascón, who took over as chief in July. "It was understood that it needed to be reformed, and that I was the one to do it. ... We have been very transparent. Until someone proves that I am not transparent, they need to back off."

Madden allegedly told investigators she began taking cocaine from the crime lab in October. She took a leave from her job in December, just weeks before lab supervisors discovered that cocaine was missing from evidence she had handled. She retired March 1.

Drug testing at the lab was stopped last month in the wake of a police investigation into the lab and its operation.

'This lab is a mess'
"There is no doubt this lab is a mess. ... I know there are issues in the lab," said Assistant Chief Jeff Godown, whom Gascón has tapped to run the investigation into what went wrong with the lab and come up with solutions. "It's a daunting task, but it will be taken care of."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kids Behind Bars: Why Are We So Trigger Happy

Our cover story this week recounts the tale of Alan Sudduth, a juvenile who was sentenced to seventy years in prison in 1996 for the murder of a cab driver -- even though a recent hearing showed that the prosecution's case was full of holes, earning Sudduth a new trial.

Sudduth was caught up in a movement that grew out of the so-called Summer of Violence in 1993, which gave prosecutors more leeway to "direct file" charges against kids as adults, without having to hold a hearing to determine whether the defenders should be taken out of juvenile court. Colorado's direct-file system has been criticized by criminal defenders and youth advocates ever since -- and Sudduth's case may be a glaring example of the system's drawbacks.
The state's current direct-file system was a response to growing concerns about crime in the 1990s, says Kim Dvorchak, chair of the Colorado Juvenile Defender Division. "What had been happening before was that when a child committed a serious crime, the DA would have to petition the juvenile court judge to waive jurisdiction and send the case to adult district court," she says. "In the 1990s, crime went up and the judicial transfer process was perceived as cumbersome. You had to have a hearing. There were defense lawyers involved and they might get evaluations and evidence. It was like a mini-trial."
So to get tough on crime, the Colorado Legislature passed a series of laws that allowed prosecutors to bypass judicial hearings and direct file kids fourteen and older for class 1 or class 2 felonies and other crimes. That gave DA;s offices widespread new authority, says Dvorchak. "The direct-file statute relieves a prosecutor of having to prove the child is no longer amenable to treatment in the juvenile system," she explains. "Even when prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, they have to give notice. It's a separate sentencing hearing, and a jury decides whether or not to impose the death penalty. Even that level of due process is absent from the direct-file statute."
Colorado isn't unique in having direct-file laws. Fourteen states allow district attorneys to direct file kids as adults, something often referred to as judicial waiver. Some states have even passed mandatory waiver laws, meaning that kids over a certain age accused of first-degree murder have to be charged in adult court, no matter what defense attorneys or prosecutors might say.
But Colorado is unique in one regard, says Dvorchak: "We have no ability to return kids to juvenile court. The majority of other states that have direct-file or mandatory waiver laws give the child an opportunity to challenge adult-court jurisdiction either at pretrial or at sentencing. As Colorado's direct-file statute currently stands, there is no provision that allows defense attorneys to challenge the prosecutors' decision that a child should be subject to adult laws instead of juvenile laws."
And that's a problem, says Dvorchak, because once such a decision is made, it can have drastic consequences on the kids involved. For one thing, as part of a direct file, the prosecutors can decide the youth should stay in adult jail pending the conclusion of the trial. Since these jails don't have separate facilities for juveniles and the kids can't be mixed in with the older inmates, that often means the youths are subjected to 23- or 24-hour cell lockdown. There are often few of the recreation and education opportunities available at juvenile facilities, and the young inmates aren't allowed contact visits with their families. "The conditions are almost like death row," says Dvorchak. "They have worse conditions than the adults."
Over the past couple of years, there have been two prominent examples of teenagers committing suicide while incarcerated in local adult jails, one in Pueblo and one in Denver.
Dvorchak says there are also major problems with sending kids through court proceedings designed for adults. "Reports have found that prosecuting children in adult court increases recidivism," she says. "Children's experiences going through the adult court proceedings are so negative. In juvenile court, it's a much friendlier atmosphere. Most people in the juvenile court system are interested in rehabilitating these kids, getting them on the right track. That's not what happens in adult criminal court. It's a much more sterile environment."

Prison has a mommy track :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicago Crime

Prison has a mommy track :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicago Crime
DECATUR -- Illinois prison officials are constantly frustrated by a revolving door, the seemingly endless supply of inmates returning shortly after they are released.

That was one reason there was an atmosphere of triumph on the E-Wing of the Decatur Correctional Center, as prison officials, community volunteers, inmates and former inmates marked the third anniversary of an innovative program that allows women to keep their babies with them in prison.

The infants live with their mothers on a unit on which each mother has her own room, with access to large day rooms decorated with colorful murals and outdoor patios. There are plenty of toys and books throughout the unit.

Michael Randle, director of the Illinois Department of Corrections, commended the program, noting it is important that infants bond with their mothers during the first 18 months of their lives.

But the comment that sparked thunderous applause was related to the thorny issue of recidivism.

"Of the 25 offenders that have gone through this program, none, zero, have returned to this prison," Randle said. "That is certainly something you all should be proud of. Today is a celebration of your success."

Women now living in "the free world" were invited to the celebration, partly to show current inmates what success looks like.

Sylvia Martinez, 21, said she was reluctant to come back to the prison that she was so happy to leave on May 8, 2009, but she felt an obligation to let people know how much the program helped her. She returned with her 2-year-old Chloe, an energetic redhead who had spent most of her life on E-Wing.

"I cried a little bit when I came back in," Martinez said.

She said she cried much more when she first entered the unit as a pregnant 18-year-old in September 2007, convicted on a methamphetamine charge.

While she was an inmate at Dwight Correctional Center, a large maximum-security facility, she heard about the new program at Decatur, which is structured to serve women who will be released by the time their children reach 2 years old.

Chloe was born in Decatur Memorial Hospital on Dec. 19, 2007, two days after her mother's 19th birthday. Martinez was allowed to stay in the hospital with Chloe for a few days before they both settled on the Mom and Babies Unit.

Martinez was given about six weeks without a work assignment, a prison version of maternity leave, to focus on bonding with Chloe and developing good parenting skills. She received help from staff members and inmates on the unit, who are all mothers, all trained in child development and CPR.

When Martinez settled into a routine, which included studying for her GED and attending substance abuse classes, she realized her attitude was changing. The change was partly an outgrowth of the "really good bond" she was forming with Chloe.

"I was determined to get out and be the best mom for her," Martinez said, "so she wouldn't end up here."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Legislative Update and Action Alert


SB 193 (use of restraints on pregnant inmates in labor)

SB 193:  Concerning the Safe Treatment of Pregnant Persons in Custody
Sponsors:  Senator Hudak and Representative Levy

Description:  SB 193 was just recently introduced and addresses the use of restraints on pregnant women in custody or confined in prisons, city/county jails, juvenile detention facilities, or department of human service facilities.  SB 193 would prohibit the use of restraints on a pregnant inmate during delivery, postpartum recovery, or transport to or from a medical facility for childbirth unless medical staff or corrections staff determine that the woman poses an immediate and serious risk of harm to herself or medical staff or the woman posses a substantial risk of escape that cannot be reasonably reduced by another method. 

The contact information for the Senate Judiciary Committee members is listed below.  Please ask them to SUPPORT SB 193.  Senator Hudak, the bill sponsor, is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  If you contact her, please thank her for her leadership.

MONDAY, APRIL 26, 2010 AT 1:30PM
HB 1352 (drug sentencing reform)

HB 1352:  Drug sentencing reform. 
Sponsors:  Representative Mark Waller (R) and Senators Steadman (D) and Mitchell (R)
Co-sponsors:  Representatives Pace (D), Court (D), Gardner B (R), Gerou (R), Kagan (D), King S. (R), Levy (D), Looper (R), Massey (R), May (R), McCann (D), Miklosi (D), Nikkel (R), Roberts (R), Ryden (D) and Stephens (R) and Senators Carroll M.(D), Hudak (D), Morse (D), Newell (D), Penry (R), and  White (R)

Status: HB 1352 was passed by the House on a vote of 58-5 with two excused.  It will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, April 26, 2010.

Description: This bill is based on recommendations approved by the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.  It would reduce penalties for the crime of drug use or possession and redirect cost savings in corrections to substance abuse and mental health treatment. The bill also creates enhanced penalties for adults convicted of selling drugs to a minor.  The bill also makes two changes to the special offender statute to exclude “simple possession” quantities from an enhancement for importation and redefines the nexus required for the sentence enhancement for involvement of a weapon during a drug offense.  In 2010, $1.5 million will be allocated to expand funding for substance abuse treatment to people in the criminal justice system.

The following are the three Republican members that have not yet indicated their position on HB 1352. 

Senator Kevin Lundberg (Larimer) 303-866-4853 or Kevin@kevinlundberg.com
Senator Scott Renfroe (Weld) 303-866-4451 or senatorrenfroe@gmail.com
Senator Keith King (El Paso) 303-866-4880 or keith@keithking.org

The Democrat Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee all support HB 1352.  If you contact them, please thank them for their support.

Senator Pat Steadman (HB 1352 sponsor) (Denver) 303-866-4861 or sen.steadman@gmail.com
Senator Morgan Carroll (chair) (Arapahoe) 303-866-4879 or morgan.carroll.senate@state.co.us
Senator Evie Hudak (Jefferson) 303-866-4840 or senatorhudak@gmail.com
Senator Linda Newell (Arapahoe/Jefferson) 303-866-4846 or Linda.newell.senate@state.co.us


SB 189: Concerning Authorization for Government Agencies to Approve Clean Syringe Exchange Programs to Reduce the Spread of Blood-Borne Disease
Sponsors:  Senator Steadman (D) and Representative Weissmann (D)

Status:  SB 189 was passed on third reading in the Senate on a vote of 24-10 (with 1 excused). We will let you know when it has been scheduled to be heard in the House.

Recently, the House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the following four bills!  Thank you to all who contacted committee members.   

HB 1360: Reducing Revocations for Technical Violations
Sponsors:  Representative Pace (D) and Senator Steadman (D)
Description:  The bill provides for more funding for re-entry support services for people on parole.  It also provides funding for substance abuse and/or mental health treatment options for parolees at risk of revocation with treatment needs.  If the parole board revokes parole for a technical violation, the maximum time a parolee with an underlying nonviolent conviction could be reincarcerated for a technical parole violation is 90 days (from the current statutory cap of 180 days) if s/he were assessed as medium risk or below. The current 180 day statutory limit on the period of reincarceration would be retained if the parolee was assessed as high risk, or being revoked to a community return to custody facility or community corrections facility. 

HB 1374:  Changes to Parole
Sponsors:  Representative Ferrandino (D) and Senator Penry (R)
Description:  This bill is based on recommendations from the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice regarding changes to the statutory parole guidelines that encompassed three different recommendations: (1) changes the statutory parole guidelines and requires the parole board to use structured decision-making in both release and revocation hearings; (2) clarifies eligibility for enhanced earned time that was passed last year in HB 09-1351; and (3) repeals some archaic language in statute that mandates the arrest of a parolee under certain circumstances (e.g., if the parolee is in a county where there is a correctional facility without permission of the parole officer).

HB 1373:  Sentencing Changes for Escape Crime
Sponsors:  Representative T. Carroll (D) and Senator Hudak (D)
Description:  This bill is based on a recommendation approved by the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice. Under current law, a conviction for escape requires the court to impose a mandatory, consecutive sentence and a broad range of scenarios can be considered escape.  HB 1373 would exclude diversion clients in community corrections and parolees on intensive supervision from the mandatory, consecutive sentencing requirement, although judges retain the authority to impose a consecutive sentence in any given case. People on “inmate status” would still face the mandatory consecutive sentence, including people in secured correctional facilities, work release, and DOC transition clients in community corrections. 

SB 159:  Concerning Defendant Statements at a Community Corrections Hearing

Sponsors:  Senator Foster (D) and Representative Miklosi (D)
Description:  The bill requires that a community corrections board accept a written statement from an inmate regarding a transitional referral if it was timely submitted by the inmate to the DOC case manager. The written statement must be included in the initial electronic referral made by DOC to a community corrections board.  Community corrections boards would have the discretion whether to accept a written or oral statement by a third party on behalf of an inmate. Community corrections boards would be required to develop written policies that are publicly accessible regarding written statements or oral presentations by victims or inmate representatives regarding an inmate’s transitional referral to community corrections.

7 DUI cases dismissed after Springs lab errors - The Denver Post

7 DUI cases dismissed after Springs lab errors - The Denver Post
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Seven DUI cases were dismissed and charges were reduced in two others following a review of faulty blood-alcohol tests at the Colorado Springs Metro Crime Lab. Colorado Springs authorities in December announced the discovery of errors and a review of results at the lab where the alcohol content in blood samples was higher than the true result. Earlier this year, officials from the lab said the problems were a result of how a solvent was used by a chemist during the testing process.
In all, the lab retested 7,892 blood alcohol cases dating back to 2006 and found a total of 206 errors. Of the nine affected cases, five defendants had served jail time. 

US Sentencing Commission Votes To Send Congress Alternatives To Incarceration

Doc Berman over at Sentencing Law and Policy posted this press release from the US Sentencing Commission.
Here's a piece but click above to read the whole thing
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Sentencing Commission voted to promulgate sentencing guideline amendments that expand the availability of alternatives to incarceration and address the relevance of certain specific offender characteristics in sentencing. The Commission also voted to promulgate guideline amendments on additional topics including hate crimes, the calculation of a defendant’s criminal history, and sentencing corporate offenders.
The amendment on sentencing alternatives has several key components. First it informs courts that departures from the guidelines may be warranted in situations where an offender’s criminal activity is related to a treatment issue such as drug or alcohol abuse or significant mental illness and sentencing options such as home or community confinement or intermittent confinement would serve a specific treatment purpose. The Commission also recommends in a new application note that courts take into consideration the effectiveness of residential treatment programs as part of their decision to impose community confinement. Second, the Commission voted to increase the availability of alternative sentencing options by expanding by one offense level Zones B and C in the guidelines’ sentencing table. According to the guidelines, offenders in Zones B and C are eligible, in the court’s discretion and subject to statutory limitations, for alternatives to straight imprisonment such as split sentences, home or community confinement.

“The Commission has heard from virtually every sector of the criminal justice community that there is a great need for alternatives to incarceration,” said Chair of the Commission, William K. Sessions III. “Expanding the availability of alternatives to straight incarceration is a public safety issue. Providing flexibility in sentencing for certain low-level, non violent offenders helps lower recidivism, is cost effective, and protects the public. The Commission’s action in this area amounts to a very modest but important step in the right direction.”

Bill Intends To Cut Down On Prison Time

The Pueblo Chieftain

DENVER — It's difficult enough to get prosecutors and defense lawyers to agree on basic facts — the sun rising in the morning, for instance.
  But on Monday, state Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, convinced interests on both sides of the prison fence that there's value to providing services parolees need to avoid returning to prison and, in turn, spare the state $15 million to use on other programs.
  With the support of the state Public Defender, the Colorado District Attorneys Council, the Colorado Department of Corrections, the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and others that tend to be polarized by law-and-order issues, Pace's HB1360 advanced unanimously Monday through the House Judiciary Committee.
  "The whole goal is to take the cost savings from decreased time in prison and use it to prevent people from committing other crimes," Pace said.
About $3.1 million of the savings would be devoted to the programs outlined in Pace's bill.
  The bill seeks to reduce the number of parolees who violate conditions of parole without committing new crimes. It aims to isolate the factors that tend to divert released prisoners off the right path and address them specifically. That would be determined using evidence-based formulas for determining likelihood of recidivism, and affording opportunities for treatment to intercede in the cases of parolees who pose the lowest risks.
  It provides for halfway house space and treatment in the areas that are most often pitfalls for parolees — such as housing, employment, mental health and substance abuse.
  "The keystone in all of this is support services for parolees when they come out of prison," said Christine Donner of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.
  The bill would provide for 70 more beds in halfway-house-style situations for parolees who violate technical terms of parole without committing new offenses. By being placed in those settings, they would not take up prison beds and would get the treatment they need to avoid repeating their violations.
 The parole board also would have the option of releasing some parolees directly into the programs to prevent violation in the first place.
  Pace said in Pueblo, organizations like Crossroads' Turning Points, Spanish Peaks Mental Health Center, Minnequa Community Corrections and Community Corrections Services Inc., could provide the services the bill seeks to make available to parolees to keep them on track.
  For those parolees who have violated the rules but are deemed to be low-risk, the bill calls for 90-day sentences in community return to custody facilities — similar to halfway houses — rather than 180-day stays in prison.
  The bill will go through the House Appropriations Committee on its way to the House floor for debate.

Monday, April 19, 2010

State Yanks Parole for Paralyzed Thief

A 22-year-old convicted car thief, left a quadraplegic by police gunfire and now costing the state prison system $200,000 a year for his care, was recently granted an unusual "special medical needs" parole -- only to see it revoked after law enforcement officials learned of the arrangement and complained that he hadn't been punished enough.
Darrell Havens can wiggle a few fingers on one hand, speak and hold a pen. But he needs aid getting in and out of his electric wheelchair, showering, and even strapping on the adaptive spoon that allows him to eat. Someone has to turn his body three times a night and dispense the medications that help control his spasms and fight infections. Serving a twenty-year sentence, he's clearly not in a position to commit violent felonies these days. But the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office and Arvada police say he tried to run over a cop and shouldn't get an early release, regardless of what it costs to keep him in prison.
"Is he a risk to public safety? I don't think so," says Dave Michaud, the chairman of the Colorado Parole Board. "But this is an unusual case."
"I am not a violent person in any way or was I ever," Havens recently wrote to Westword from the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility. "But certain people of authority have to make others look bad just to make the bad actions which they committed look right."
At nineteen, Havens already had a string of theft and burglary cases pending -- enough to attract the attention of an Arvada-based task force, which used an informant to lure Havens into an undercover sting operation. When Havens showed up at a strip mall parking lot with a hot vehicle one day in early 2007, police sealed off the exits. Havens tried to flee. Police rammed his truck and opened fire nine times.
Detectives claim Havens tried to assault one of their officers with his vehicle. Havens insists he wasn't trying to hit anybody; one bullet had struck him in the chest and damaged his spinal cord, leaving him unable to move or put the vehicle in park. Facing a possible attempted homicide charge, he ended up pleading guilty to assault and motor vehicle theft and got twenty years.
Family members say the Colorado Department of Corrections is ill-equipped to meet his medical needs. Since he's been at Fort Lyon, his bed has caught fire, he's suffered heatstroke in the shower and missed meals because of breakdowns of his special wheelchair. "I'm not sure if they're not qualified to take care of him or they just don't want to," says Chrystal Havens, Darrell's sister. "But he's not getting any rehabilitation or therapy, and he can't even feed himself."
Last fall, alarmed by the mounting costs of treatment, DOC officials -- not Havens -- petitioned the parole board for an early release. The full board approved a plan in November that would have paroled Havens to a friend's house, where he would receive nursing care and constant supervision. His father, Gerald, lined up a special bed and doctors and other requirements.
"He did do wrong against society, but this boy can't commit another crime," Gerald Havens says. "If they want to place him on parole for the next twenty years, I don't have a problem with that. But he's not got getting any help in prison."
In February, only two days before his scheduled release, Havens learned his parole had been canceled "due to additional information." Nobody would tell him what the information was, but Michaud acknowledges that the parole board received "some significant criticism" from the Jeffco DA and the Arvada PD for planning to let Havens out so early in his sentence.
"There was also some suggestion that after he was shot, he was still involved in criminal behavior," Michaud adds.
The ongoing criminal behavior? A "little bit of marijuana" was found in Havens' wheelchair when he was at a nursing home prior to taking his guilty plea, Michaud explains. That added provocation, coupled with the objections from law enforcement, prompted the parole board to reverse its earlier decision.
As it stands now, Havens isn't eligible for parole until 2018. "I know they want him to do his time," his father says. "I understand that. But what they did was raise our hopes and then shoot 'em down again."
Michaud, a former Denver police chief, retires from the parole board at the end of the month. He suggests that the DOC might be able to come back to the board in six months or a year and try again. By that point, he suspects, law enforcement officials "might well soften their view" about Darrell Havens -- or maybe the parole board will have recovered from its own lack of a functioning spine.

GEO Group To Buy Cornell

* Offer at 35 pct premium to Cornell's Friday close * Geo, Cornell reaffirm Q1 profit views
April 19 (Reuters) - Prison operator Geo Group Inc (GEO.N) agreed to buy rival Cornell Cos (CRN.N) for about $374.4 million in cash and stock, as it expands to meet an increasing demand for correctional and detention facilities.
The deal values Cornell at $24.96 a share, a 35 percent premium to the stock's Friday close. Cornell had about 15 million shares outstanding as of Feb. 19.
Under the terms of the agreement, Cornell shareholders can choose to receive 1.3 shares of Geo's common stock for each share held.
They also have the option to choose cash equivalent to 1.3 Geo shares or 1 Geo share plus $6, whichever is higher.
Geo will also assume about $300 million of Cornell debt, the companies said.
The acquisition creates a company with revenue of about $1.5 billion, Geo's Chief Executive George Zoley said in a statement.
The combined company will manage or own 97 correctional and detention facilities with a total capacity of about 76,000 beds and 32 behavioral health facilities.
Geo expects the deal, slated to close in the third quarter, to add to its 2011 pro forma earnings.
Both companies reaffirmed their earnings outlook for the first quarter. (Reporting by Viraj Nair in Bangalore;)

Harmful Effects of Isolated Confinement

Oped News

Harmful Effects of Prolonged Isolated Confinement - by Stephen Lendman
Terry Kupers is a practicing psychiatrist, an expert on long-term isolated prison confinement, author of numerous articles on the subject as well as his book titled, "Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It." He's also a frequent expert witness in related cases, serves as a consultant, and is currently Institute Professor in the Graduate School of Psychology at Wright Institute, Berkeley, CA. More on his work below.
Social scientists have studied the effects for years, social psychologist Hans Toch coining the term "isolation panic" to describe symptoms he observed in men he interviewed, including panic, rage, a sense of total loss of control, emotional breakdown, regressive behavior, and self-mutiliation. He distinguished between difficult but tolerable incarceration and intolerable long-term isolation.
An October 14, 2007 Scott Pelley's 60 Minutes report called Supermax prisons "A Clean Version of Hell," referring to the only federal one, the US Penitentiary Florence (ADMAX) Facility, Florence, Colorado, entirely a Supermax facility. He called it secretive, closed to the public, the media, and 60 Minutes only could approach the perimeter and be able to interview former warden Robert Hood, in charge from 2002 - 2005.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gudino case could bring Colorado full circle in charging juvenile killers | old, colorado, year - Public Safety - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

Gudino case could bring Colorado full circle in charging juvenile killers | old, colorado, year - Public Safety - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO
If 14-year-old Daniel Gudino is charged with murder as an adult and if he is convicted, two major ifs at this point, he would be the youngest person currently to serve time in the Colorado prison system.
Of the 56 juveniles currently serving life sentences in Colorado, none were younger than 14 when they committed their crimes. Gudino was 13-year-old when he allegedly killed his 9-year-old brother in May 2009.
However, if he were to be found guilty, Gudino would not be the youngest person ever sentenced for murder in Colorado. That distinction belongs to an 11-year-old boy who served his time when Colorado was still a relatively young state.
Anton Woode began serving a 25-year sentence at the old Territorial prison in Canon City on April 8, 1893, making him the youngest prisoner in the state’s history according to Kay Ellifon, director of the Museum of Colorado Prisons.
Dick Kreck, a former reporter for The Denver Post and The Gazette, wrote a book on the case called “Anton Woode, Boy Murderer.”
Kreck said Woode had gone hunting near his home in Brighton when he met four other hunters from Denver. One of them was a man named Joseph Smith, who was carrying a gold pocket watch.
Three of the hunters went looking for ducks while Smith and Woode went rabbit hunting, Kreck said. Woode then shot Smith once in the back and fled with the pocket watch.
“It had been snowing, so they had no trouble following his footprints to his house,” Kreck said. “They found him hiding under his bed.”
The first trial ended in a hung jury. The big issue was whether the then-10-year-old could know right from wrong, Kreck said.
At a second trial the jurors found Woode guilty of second-degree murder. The governor had threatened to pardon the boy if he was found guilty of first-degree murder. Woode was sentenced to 25 years.
Although he had only a second-grade education to that point, Woode learned to speak fluent French and German while in prison. He also learned to play the violin and to paint water colors, Kreck said.
Woode took part in a prison break in which a guard was stabbed to death, but it was later determined that he was forced to take part. He was freed from prison after serving 12 and a half years at the age of 23.
He settled first in New York and then Minnesota. He worked as a bookkeeper and died in the 1940s.
At the time of Woode’s case, Colorado did not have a separate juvenile justice system. Teens were held in the same jails as adults, Kreck said. That began to change in 1903 when Denver started its own juvenile court.
The idea was that juveniles should be treated separately and not charged as adults.
“Now we’ve kind of come full circle,” Kreck said.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Highlands Ranch pot grower wants trial - The Denver Post

Highlands Ranch pot grower wants trial - The Denver Post

A man charged with operating a large marijuana-growing operation in his Highlands Ranch basement abruptly reversed course today and said he won't agree to a plea deal with prosecutors.

Chris Bartkowicz had been scheduled to sign off on the agreement with prosecutors today during a "change of plea" hearing in federal court. But, instead, Bartkowicz's attorney told federal District Court Judge Philip Brimmer that Bartkowicz has decided he wants to argue his case at trial.

The next step is for the U.S. Attorney's Office to formally indict Bartkowicz, which the office's attorney on the case called "very likely."

"My client informs me that, in the event he is indicted, he intends to proceed to trial," Bartkowicz's attorney, Joseph Saint-Veltri said.

The move carries considerable risk for Bartkowicz. Though he says all of the marijuana he grew was provided either directly to medical-marijuana patients or to dispensaries, state medical-marijuana law may provide little to no shield for him in federal court. Bartkowicz also has prior felony drug convictions in state court, which would serve as sentence-enhancers if he were convicted in federal court, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Jeff Dorschner said.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

HB 1352 Passes The House

Drug Sentencing Reform (HB 1352) with no debate passed through the House in a sweeping 58 - 5 vote.  The bill will now head to Senate Judiciary.

Here's what Fox News had to say:

DENVER - In these contentious political times, a bill passed out of the Colorado House today that has wide bi-partisan support. It would reform Colorado's drug sentencing laws to shift the emphasis on getting treatment for drug users, as opposed to locking them up.

Sponsor, Rep. Mark Waller (R- Colorado Springs) says ,"The current laws on the books are honed in on punishment as a means of reforming people who in many cases have real problems.

The intent of this legislation is to shift the focus to getting non violent drug offeners the help they need so they can become productive members of society."

Waller, a former prosecutor, says people who have addiction problems tend to get involved in more crimes, unless they are put into treatment programs. Reducing prison sentences for drug users is estimated to save the state $55 million dollars over the next five years. The bill would pump some of that money into treatment programs.

Waller says that would make communities safer. He says, "If you can treat these offenders up front then you can prevent them from committing more violent crimes in the future."

He says the bill would not impact prison times for drug dealers and would enhance sentences for adults convicted of selling drugs to minors. The bill came out of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice.

It's made up of prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement and mental health experts. The bill now goes to the Colorado Senate.

Colo. pot case highlights growers' worries - The Denver Post

Colo. pot case highlights growers' worries - The Denver Post
DENVER—Pot smoker Chris Bartkowicz thought he had hit pay dirt, bragging to a local television station he would make $400,000 off a basement medical marijuana operation in a well-heeled Denver suburb where neighbors had no idea what he was growing.

A day after KUSA-TV aired a tease about his story in February, the Drug Enforcement Administration paid a visit, seizing more than 200 plants and charging Bartkowicz with cultivating marijuana, a federal crime punishable by five to 40 years in prison and a $2 million fine.

The first-of-its-kind case since Colorado voters approved medical marijuana in 2000 has alarmed growers across Colorado, prompted a U.S. congressman to decry federal drug enforcement and put Denver's DEA chief on the defensive.

The case underscores the ongoing pressure points over the use of medical marijuana. Bartkowicz had state medical clearance to smoke pot and was a designated grower for other patients. But U.S. prosecutors say even if he was following state guidelines, the drug remains illegal under federal law, despite the Obama administration's decision to relax prosecution guidelines for medical marijuana last year.

Bartkowicz's lawyer, Joseph Saint-Veltri, has declined comment but submitted a legal brief saying Colorado law should be respected. He even quoted a Federalist Paper penned by James Madison extolling states' right to legislate "lives, liberties and properties of the people."

Jeff Sweetin, special agent in charge of the DEA's Rocky Mountain Region, said state and local police hesitate to go after pot growers because of the conflict between state and federal law. Federal authorities are the only ones left to enforce marijuana laws, he said.

"I'm not here to be the regulator of medical marijuana," Sweetin said, adding he'd prefer to "work the highest-level drug-trafficking organizations."

New detention center dedicated in Denver - The Denver Post

New detention center dedicated in Denver - The Denver Post

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

State ed board defers criminal-reporting decision - The Denver Post

State ed board defers criminal-reporting decision - The Denver Post

The state Board of Education Wednesday heard critical comments from education groups over a proposal to require school districts to inform parents if a teacher or other employee has been arrested or charged.

The board scheduled a May 12 vote on the idea, which was called a form of "vigilante justice" by Bradley Bartels, legal counsel for the Colorado Education Association.

The proposal, drafted by state board chair Bob Schaffer, requires that school officials, after consulting with police, "notify all parents of the students enrolled in a school when an arrest is made or charge are brought, whichever occurs earlier, of an employee of the school by any law enforcement agency."

The proposal also requires schools to notify parents within 24 hours of learning the information.

Schaffer said he proposed the notification requirement after revelations surfaced that the Poudre School District did not notify the public when two former employees were charged with felonies involving student victims.

Schaffer said he would take comments from the various groups into account when a final draft of the proposal is voted on in May.