For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 30, 2010. Contact: Margaret Dooley-Sammuli 213-291-4190 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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, November 30, 2010
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 30, 2010. Contact: Margaret Dooley-Sammuli 213-291-4190 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215
Saturday, November 27, 2010
By ADAM LIPTAKWASHINGTON — In 1976, just six months after he joined the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens voted to reinstate capital punishment after a four-year moratorium. With the right procedures, he wrote, it is possible to ensure “evenhanded, rational and consistent imposition of death sentences under law.”
In 2008, two years before he announced his retirement, Justice Stevens reversed course and in a concurrence said that he now believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional.
But the reason for that change of heart, after more than three decades on the court and some 1,100 executions, has in many ways remained a mystery, and now Justice Stevens has provided an explanation.
In a detailed, candid and critical essay to be published this week in The New York Review of Books, he wrote that personnel changes on the court, coupled with “regrettable judicial activism,” had created a system of capital punishment that is shot through with racism, skewed toward conviction, infected with politics and tinged with hysteria.
The essay is remarkable in itself. But it is also a sign that at 90, Justice Stevens is intent on speaking his mind on issues that may have been off limits while he was on the court.
In the process, he is forging a new model of what to expect from Supreme Court justices after they leave the bench, one that includes high-profile interviews and provocative speeches.
He will be on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.
Earlier this month, he weighed in on the controversy over the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in a speech to the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.
at 6:19 PM
Friday, November 26, 2010
DENVER — State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, made a name for herself fighting for the corrections officers in her district for eight years at the State Capitol. Now that her days as a legislator are behind her, McFadyen finds herself fighting for prison employees again, but in a new capacity.
In her post-legislative existence, McFadyen will continue her career in land development in Pueblo County and venture into a new arena as a contracted advocate for the interests of prison employees nationwide and opposing the private-prison industry.
The term-limited lawmaker said her pet issue, state employees in Southern Colorado in particular, faces a difficult legislative session ahead as the General Assembly finds ways to pare $1 billion from the state budget.
“As state employees go, so does the Southern Colorado economy,” McFadyen said. “(Term-limited) Sen. Abel Tapia (D-Pueblo)and I teamed up to protect Southern Colorado as best we could. It’s going to be on some newcomers to do it now. They need to have the political will on both sides of the aisle to accomplish that. It’s going to be daunting.”
at 6:51 AM
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Colorado State Senator-elect Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, told The Colorado Independent Monday that he will introduce legislation early in the next session that would be nearly a carbon copy of Arizona’s SB 1070.
“We will introduce a series of bills that have to do with illegal immigration. We plan to run a 1070-type bill,” he said, adding that the legislation will be ready to go right away when the session opens.
“The issue is not to try and write a bill in such a way that you can avoid litigation. It will be litigated one way or the other,” Lambert said. “Groups that oppose measures like this will litigate no matter how you write it.”
He said that polls show that a majority of Americans support legislation like Arizona’s. “I don’t care if it is litigated,” he said. “It is clearly something the people want. The will of the people has been ignored by Democrats for too long.”
Lambert said that if the law is not passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor-elect John Hickenlooper, it will probably be put on the ballot by the people.
“John Hickenlooper is clearly on the wrong side of this issue. The people of Colorado clearly want this passed. If the Legislature and the governor fail, then it will go to a vote of the people,” Lambert said.
He said he understood that a State Senate with a 20-15 Democratic majority might not pass an Arizona-style immigration bill. “I expect it will be a controversial bill, but there is a chance it will pass because it is possible that some of the Democrats will listen to what their constituents are telling them.”
at 7:59 PM
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
9NEWS.com | Denver | Colorado's Online News Leader | Prison escapee Douglas Alward blames seventh escape on incompetent guards
9NEWS.com | Denver | Colorado's Online News Leader | Prison escapee Douglas Alward blames seventh escape on incompetent guards
CANON CITY - Prison escapee Douglas Alward, the only Colorado prisoner to ever escape past a lethal electric fence, tells 9Wants to Know any inmate could have done the same thing and blames a lack of security that allowed his seventh escape on incompetent prison officers.
"The real issue is the laziness of Sterling staff," Alward, 48, said. "Without their lack of care, none of this would have been possible."
9Wants to Know interviewed Alward in a series of phone conversations and letters he sent since he escaped and was caught again.
Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras disagrees with Alward and says prison staff members were doing their jobs. However, he changed prison policies across the state after Alward's most recent escape highlighted deficiencies.
"We are dead set on taking steps to ensure something like this won't happen again," Zavaras said.
The seventh escape
Alward spoke at length with the 9Wants to Know investigators about his Aug. 22 escape.
"Nine years ago when I arrived at Sterling, none of what I did would have been possible. Within the last three years or so, anyone could have done this," Alward said in a phone interview with 9Wants to Know.
Alward planned his escape for two years, working nearly every day to gather materials to carry out his plot.
As an inmate maintenance worker, he was permitted to work unsupervised performing routine plumbing repairs throughout his unit.
He removed copper piping from the ventilation system to build a ladder, took shipping boxes from the canteen, found some discarded shower curtains lying around, and hid the supplies in a wall behind a toilet and above an access panel in the ceiling of his cell.
After correction officers' nightly rounds ended at 9:20 p.m. on a windy Aug. 22, Alward made his move.
He knew debris would be blowing across the prison yard and into the fences and believed that would make it tougher for corrections officers to know he was escaping.
Getting through his cell window was simple because of maintenance work he had already performed on it.
Alward told 9NEWS that the previous year, all the windows on the east side of Sterling had been riveted shut.
"I had done all of unit 22's and placed altered rivets in my window so it appeared secure, but still opened," he said.
Once outside, Alward used his makeshift ladder to get over the first razor wire fence.
at 7:37 AM
Monday, November 22, 2010
As a 33-year law enforcement veteran and former training commander with the Maryland State Police and Baltimore Police Department, I know how easy it is to intimidate citizens into answering incriminating questions or letting me search through their belongings. This reality might make things easier for police looking to make an easy arrest, but it doesn't always serve the interests of justice. That's why I believe all citizens should understand how to protect their constitutional rights and make smart decisions when dealing with officers of the law.
Unfortunately, this important information has remained largely unavailable to the public, despite growing concerns about police misconduct and the excesses of the war on drugs. For this reason, I agreed to serve as a technical consultant for the important new film, 10 Rules for Dealing with Police. The 40-minute docudrama aims to educate the public about basic legal and practical survival strategies for handling even the scariest police encounters. It was produced by the civil liberties group Flex Your Rights and is narrated by former federal judge and acclaimed Baltimore trial lawyer William "Billy" Murphy, Jr.
at 6:49 AM
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Huge Growth in People With Criminal Records creates $57-$65 Billion in Lost Output a Year
Growth of Ex-Offender Population in United States Is a Dramatic Drag on Economy
Three decades of harsh criminal justice policies have created a large population of ex-offenders that struggle in the labor market long after they have paid their debts to society, according to a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Because prison records and felony convictions greatly lower ex-offenders' chances of finding work, the United States loses between $57 billion and $65 billion a year in lost output.
"It isn't just that we have the highest incarceration rate in the world, we have created a situation over the last 30 years where about one in eight men is an ex-offender," said John Schmitt, a Senior Economist at CEPR and a co-author of the report.
The new report, "Ex-offenders and the Labor Market," found that in 2008 there were between 5.4 million and 6.1 million ex-prisoners and between 12.3 million and 13.9 million ex-felons in the United States. Over 90 percent were men.
In 2008, about one in 33 working-age adults was an ex-prisoner, and about one in 15 working-age adults was an ex-felon. Among working-age men in that same year, about one in 17 was an ex-prisoner and one in eight was an ex-felon.
Because ex-offenders face substantial barriers to employment, the authors estimate that the large ex-offender population in 2008 lowered employment that year by the equivalent of 1.5 million to 1.7 million workers.
"The rise in the ex-offender population overwhelmingly reflects changes in the U.S. criminal Justice system, not changes in underlying criminal activity," says Schmitt. "We incarcerate an astonishing share of non-violent offenders, particularly for drug-related offenses. We have far better ways to handle these kinds of offenses, but so far common sense has not prevailed."
The report warns that in the absence of reforms to the criminal justice system, the share of ex-offenders in the working-age population will rise substantially in coming years, increasing the magnitude of employment and output losses estimated for 2008. ..Source.. by The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.
at 7:57 AM
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
DENVER | Two Denver residents have accused immigration officials of racial profiling when they blocked a bus of Spanish speakers from leaving a Nebraska McDonald's parking lot, according to a federal complaint filed Monday.
Arquimides Bautista and Rosalba Artimas, who say they are U.S. citizens, were on the bus traveling from Denver to Omaha, Neb., for an Amway conference in April when the passengers stopped at a McDonald's for breakfast.
The complaint, filed on their behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union, said a Spanish-speaking Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent at the fast-food restaurant alerted her boss, who sent other agents to use their vehicles to block the bus from leaving.
Mark Silverstein, ACLU legal director, said the immigration agent at the McDonald's had inferred from overhearing the passengers' conversations that they had been traveling for some time, and that the "way they were dressed made her suspect a smuggling load."
Silverstein said the agent did not specify in her ICE report how the passengers' clothing made her suspicious.
He called the case "racial profiling and ethnic stereotyping at its very worst."
ICE said in a statement that two agents at the McDonald's made the decision to detain the bus "based on their 29 years combined immigration-enforcement experience" because they suspected the bus "may be used for smuggling illegal aliens."
at 7:39 PM
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thank you to Doc Berman over at Sentencing Law and Policy for pointing this out..
Dear Mr. President,
Media reports suggest that you will soon be engaging again in the ritual pardoning of a turkey. This year's feathered candidates for presidential grace are reportedly already en route for a Rose Garden ceremony ahead of Thanksgiving, after which they will be flown to Disneyland to serve as honorary grand marshals in the Thanksgiving Day parade. If past is prologue, a substantial chunk of the news cycle, and your staff's time, will be devoted to this event.
Presidential turkey-pardoning is of relatively recent provenance. Until 1989, presidents were more inclined to make a meal of the annual gift from the National Turkey Federation and the Poultry and Egg National Board. President George H.W. Bush inaugurated the practice of "pardoning" the turkey, and the tradition has been institutionalized along with the Annual Easter Egg Roll.
It is not clear what message the public is supposed to take away from this bit of holiday theater: It could have a spiritual dimension, recalling the sacrifice of grateful, hungry pilgrims; or it could suggest the imperial "thumbs up" that spared a vanquished gladiator. Perhaps the whole production is intended as a joke. What seems clear is that jet-age turkey-pardoning is preferred over the more venerable practice of pardoning human beings.
Mr. President, you have been in office almost two years now, and you have yet to pardon anyone. It may be that your advisers have cautioned that extending clemency to humans is politically risky, and discouraged you from acting favorably on any of the hundreds of pending applications that await your consideration. But this advice is at best shortsighted. Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush both waited too long to use their pardon power. In his new memoir, Bush describes the "frustration" and "disgust" he felt in his final days in office as well-connected insiders seeking pardons beat a path directly to his door. Bush seems oblivious to the fact that it was precisely his hands-off approach to pardoning throughout his tenure that led to the "last-minute frenzy" and "massive injustice" he decries, just as Clinton's neglect of his power had led to similar chaos and unfairness eight years before.
Successful pardoning requires good staffing. The attorney general has been the steward of the pardon power for more than a century, helping your predecessors to engage boldly and purposefully in their duties. Justice Department regulations invite ordinary people to apply for presidential forgiveness and instruct them how to do so. In recent years, however, that invitation has bordered on the fraudulent. A lawyer who spent more than a decade working in the office that processes pardon applications wrote recently in the Los Angeles Times that "the bureaucratic managers of the Justice Department's clemency program continue to churn out a steady stream of almost uniformly negative advice, in a politically calculated attempt to restrain (rather than inform) the president's exercise of discretion." Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has described the pardon process as "drained of its moral force." Some thought was reportedly given early in your administration to repairing or replacing this broken advisory system, but reform measures were shelved with the departure of your first White House counsel.
at 8:30 AM
Prisons sees minimal cuts to its budget
s a result of a slow crime rate throughout Colorado, one member of the Joint Budget Committee, a board of reviewers that analyzes state government departments, predicts the state may see fewer private prisons in years to come.
The crime rate has dropped three times in the past five years, with an 8 percent decrease in incarcerations since 2008. According to the Colorado Department of Corrections, the current capacity of Colorado prisons are declining despite what analysts predicted would be a large crime rise by 2013.
“In our prisons we are actually seeing a decline in the number of inmates, and this proposal continues to invest in anti-recidivism programs because they are working,” said Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter.
Colorado’s 20 private and four public correctional facilities and centers have seen a slow drop-off in capacity and a gradual increase in releases of adults in the last few years; 10,803 inmates were released in 2008, while 8,954 were released in the 2004-2005 fiscal year.
This is due to lower crime rates, along with Ritter’s 2009 anti-recidivism programs that emphasize rehabilitation, alternative sentencing and more effort to find housing once released.
“Really the most important thing for them coming out is housing and a job,” said Patrick Brodhead, the analyst of the corrections division of the JBC.
The abundance of beds has called for prisoners from Alaska to move to Hudson, Colo.’s private Hudson Correctional Facility last year. Colorado’s Women’s Correctional Facility in Canyon City shut down last year due to the staggering decline in female inmates.
Gov. Ritter released the 2011-2012 budget to the JBC this past Wednesday and discussed its effect on the corrections system.
The staff cut is a statewide initiative to slash $10 million in general funds requests to offset the Colorado rising deficit.
A 2 percent personal services cut is expected, which will potentially decrease 120 personnel from the system.
Ritter will also continue the 2.5 percent increase of state employees portion paid to the Public Employee’s Retirement Association to save $19.6 million for the state.
Brodhead said there are no other predicted cuts to corrections, but the state legislature could cut more if needed.
Crime Beat Reporter Rachel Childs can be reached at email@example.com.
at 8:16 AM
Press release - PLN joins coalition opposing nominee to head the U.S. Marshals Service 2010
P R E S S R E L E A S E
Coalition of Human Rights, Criminal Justice Organizations Announces
Opposition to Obama Nominee
November 9, 2010 – Private Corrections Working Group & Prison Legal News
For Immediate Release
Washington, DC – A coalition of human rights and criminal justice organizations today announced their opposition to President Obama’s nomination of Stacia A. Hylton to head the U.S. Marshals Service.
Hylton, a former Marshal and Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Marshals Service with a lengthy career in law enforcement, was employed from June 2004 to February 2010 as the Federal Detention Trustee, where she oversaw the detention of federal prisoners awaiting trial or immigration proceedings. Following her retirement she was nominated by President Obama on September 20, 2010 to direct the U.S. Marshals Service.
During Hylton’s tenure as Federal Detention Trustee, GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest for-profit private prison company, was awarded a number of lucrative contracts to house federal prisoners. These included a sole-source ten-year contract at GEO’s Western Region Detention Facility in San Diego, generating approximately $34 million in annual revenue; a 20-year contract to operate the 1,500-bed Rio Grande Detention Center in Laredo, Texas with an estimated $34 million in annual revenue; and a 20-year sole-source contract to manage the Robert A. Deyton Detention Facility in Lovejoy, Georgia, generating $16-20 million in annual revenue.
As reported by the Washington Times in an October 25 article, after retiring as Federal Detention Trustee earlier this year, Hylton quickly accepted a consulting job with GEO Group through her Virginia-based company, Hylton Kirk & Associates LLC, of which she is the president and sole owner. In her financial disclosure statement, Hylton reported income of $112,500 for "consulting services for detention matters, federal relations, and acquisitions and mergers." GEO Group is the only company listed in her disclosure statement in connection with such consulting services.
According to the Virginia State Corporation Commission, Hylton’s consulting company was formed on Jan. 13, 2010 – more than a month before she retired from her position as Federal Detention Trustee. However, in her questionnaire submitted to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, she stated she began working for her consulting company in March 2010, the month after her retirement.
"This is a prime example of the revolving door between the public and for-profit private sectors turning full circle," said Alex Friedmann, associate editor of Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center that reports on criminal justice issues. "After cashing in on her experience in public law enforcement by taking a consulting job with GEO Group, Ms. Hylton has now been nominated for a high-level federal position where she will oversee detention services for the U.S. Marshals – including services provided by private prison firms such as GEO."
"The U.S. Marshals preside over one of the nation's largest privatized federal detention systems," added Bob Libal, with Grassroots Leadership. "Policies that have driven the private prison expansion such as Operation Streamline are carried out by the U.S. Marshals. Ms. Hylton's consulting work with the GEO Group, a troubled company that benefits handsomely from such policies, is a cause for major concern."
Also while Hylton served as Federal Detention Trustee, Corrections Corp. of America (CCA), the nation’s largest private prison company, was awarded a 20-year contract to design, build and operate the $80 million 1,072-bed Nevada Southern Detention Center. Further, under Hylton’s direction, the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee granted a sole-source 20-year contract to CCA to hold U.S. Marshals prisoners at the company’s Leavenworth Detention Center in Kansas, and approved a sole-source contract for CCA to house U.S. Marshals detainees at a prison in Pinal County, Arizona. Approximately 40% of CCA’s business comes from the federal government.
According to a February 26, 2010 post on a website for CCA employees (www.the insideCCA.com), current CCA president Damon Hininger attended Hylton’s retirement party in Washington, DC. Hininger noted that it "was a nice event and while there, I got the opportunity to speak with various USMS and ICE officials."
Additionally, in her response to a 2007 draft audit report by the Inspector General’s Office on oversight of intergovernmental agreements by the U.S. Marshals Service and the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee (OIG report 07-26), Hylton objected to the OIG’s recommendation that the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee "limit the amount of profit a state or local jail can earn for housing federal prisoners." Since some jails that house federal detainees are privately-operated, Hylton’s objections apparently encompassed limitations on profit earned by private jail contractors.
"The primary goal of private prison companies is financial," stated Charlie Sullivan, director of International CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants), a non-profit criminal justice reform organization. "This profit motive over-rides decisions on whether to release a prisoner and whether to provide rehabilitative programs."
In 2006, Hylton gave a presentation to the Association of Private Correctional and Treatment Organizations (APCTO), an industry organization that advocates for private companies that provide correctional services, including prison privatization. APCTO’s membership includes Management & Training Corporation, a private prison contractor that houses thousands of federal detainees for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, ICE and the U.S. Marshals Service.
"It is extremely worrisome that Ms. Hylton is nominated for a position where she would be directly involved with overseeing contracts with private prison companies to house federal detainees, given her cozy relationship with the private prison industry and her acceptance of more than $100,000 from GEO through her consulting work," said Ken Kopczynski, director of the Private Corrections Working Group, a non-profit citizen watchdog organization that opposes prison privatization.
Despite repeated requests to both the White House and GEO Group, neither responded to questions regarding Hylton’s consulting relationship with GEO.
The Alliance for Justice, Human Rights Defense Center, Private Corrections Working Group, Grassroots Leadership, National Lawyers Guild, International CURE, Detention Watch Network and Justice Policy Institute today announced their opposition to Hylton’s nomination, based on her close ties to the private prison industry and the conflict those ties would create should she be appointed to direct the U.S. Marshals Service.
"While Ms. Hylton indicated she had spoken with the Office of Governmental Ethics to resolve any potential conflicts, the fact remains that she formed a consulting firm before retiring as Federal Detention Trustee, and apparently the only company she has consulted for is GEO Group – which has received multi-million dollar contracts from the federal government, including the U.S. Marshals," Kopczynski noted. "Given that she accepted money from the very industry she was overseeing as Detention Trustee, and will be overseeing again if appointed to head the Marshals, this is a conflict that cannot simply be waived. It ill serves the public for the Obama administration to nominate Ms. Hylton in light of such an obvious conflict of interest."
"Last year, while states saw their prison populations decline for the first time in years, the federal population continued to rise," added Tracy Velázquez, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute. "As taxpayers, we can’t afford increasing rates of incarceration, which we know is a failed public safety strategy that has terrible con-sequences for communities. The Administration should not be appointing someone working for the industry that most stands to gain by further increasing our country’s incarceration rate."
The coalition of organizations opposing Hylton’s nomination will be contacting the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the White House to voice their concerns.
The Private Corrections Working Group (PCWG) is a non-profit Florida-based citizen watchdog organization that works to educate the public about the significant dangers and pitfalls associated with the privatization of correctional services. PCWG maintains an online collection of news reports and other resources related to the private prison industry, and holds the position that for-profit detention facilities have no place in a free and democratic society. (www.privateci.org).
Prison Legal News (PLN), founded in 1990 and based in Brattleboro, Vermont, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human rights in U.S. detention facilities. PLN publishes a monthly magazine that includes reports, reviews and analysis of court rulings and news related to prisoners' rights and criminal justice issues. PLN has almost 7,000 subscribers nationwide and operates a website (www.prisonlegalnews.org) that includes a comprehensive database of prison and jail-related articles, news reports, court rulings, verdicts, settlements and related documents. PLN is a project of the Human Rights Defense Center.
The Alliance for Justice is a national association of over 100 organizations dedicated to advancing justice and democracy. For 30 years, the AFJ has been a leader in the fight for a more equitable society on behalf of a broad constituency of environmental, consumer, civil and women’s rights, children’s, senior citizens’ and other groups. AFJ is premised on the belief that all Americans have the right to secure justice in the courts and to have our voices heard when government makes decisions that affect our lives.
Grassroots Leadership is a multi-racial team of organizers who help community, labor, faith and campus organizations think critically, work strategically and take direct action to end social and economic oppression, gain power, and achieve justice and equity. Hundreds of prisons, jails and detention centers in this country are owned and run by for-profit corporations. For these firms, every prisoner is a profit center, every crime a business opportunity, and rehabilitation is bad for business. Our goal is to put an end to abuses of justice and the public trust by working to abolish for-profit incarceration.
The Justice Policy Institute is a Washington, DC-based policy research organization dedicated to reducing the use of incarceration and promoting strategies to increase community well-being.
The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.
International CURE is a grassroots organization that has two goals. The first is to use prisons only for those who absolutely have to be in them. Second, prisoners should be given all the rehabilitative opportunities they need to turn their lives around. "Private for-profit prisons and detention facilities go against both these goals," noted CURE director Charlie Sullivan.
The Detention Watch Network is a national coalition of organizations and individuals working to educate the public and policy makers about the U.S. immigration detention and deportation system and advocate for humane reform so that all who come to our shores receive fair and humane treatment.
For further information, please contact:
Ken Kopczynski, Executive Director
Private Corrections Working Group
1114 Brandt Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32
at 8:14 AM
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
OLNEY SPRINGS — California intends to bring up to 3,256 inmates to private prisons in Colorado and Minnesota in 2012, private prison operator Corrections Corporation of America announced.
Colorado's share will go to CCA's private Crowley County prison in Olney Springs, and in turn could lead to many of Crowley's existing 1,600 state inmates going to other prisons, the company said.
Whether the influx will lead to a reopening of CCA's closed Huerfano County prison in Walsenburg is unknown. The state itself also has unused bed space at Colorado State Penitentiary II.
The Walsenburg prison closed in April with 170 workers laid off.
In its announcement, CCA confirmed only that it is in discussions with state prison executives about options for housing the Colorado inmates currently at Crowley.
Steven Owen, director of public affairs for CCA, said Friday that it is premature for company executives to comment other than to confirm the Crowley County pact and the ongoing state talks.
Still, he sounded a positive note about the announcement. "We look forward to working with our government partners on this positive development," Owen said.
The company's official announcement also offered an optimistic tone:
"The company feels confident that this anticipated contract will be a positive, meaningful step toward the total utilization of CCA's correctional facilities in Colorado."
CCA operates four prisons in the state.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said it intends to award a new contract to CCA to manage offenders at Crowley County and a Minnesota prison.
The contract is not expected to bring inmates until 2012.
In Walsenburg, CCA announced in January plans to close the Huerfano County prison in spring after losing a major contract from Arizona. The prison was the county's second largest employer after Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center.
Katherine Sanguinetti, Department of Corrections public information officer, said that CCA notified her department of the contract two days ago.
"We have not had time to implement a plan but we have over a year to do it," Sanguinetti said.
Sanguinetti said there has not been any discussions as to whether the transfer of Colorado inmates out of Crowley County Correctional Facility could mean the reopening of the Huerfano County prison.
"We haven't talked about it just because there hasn't been time to discuss it yet. We have until 2012 to get a good solid plan in place," she said.
Crowley County Commissioner Tobe Allumbaugh said he is very excited about the proposal for his county's private prison.
"We understand that there may be additional staffing at the facility — and the more jobs we can get in Crowley County, the better," Allumbaugh said.
Allumbaugh said the inmate classification at the facility may change from medium security to minimum.
"That would improve the safety conditions of the facility. I am certain that it is going to be quite a job getting Colorado inmates out and California inmates in, but the facility has been there a while and we are very confident that CCA has the training and ability to make this a very smooth transition from one to the other," Allumbaugh said.
Ron Thompson, vice president of CCA Operations in Colorado, said in a press release that CCA employees in Colorado have consistently demonstrated a high commitment to quality correctional practices every day, and the new contract for the Crowley County prison is a testament to their skills."CCA has a long-standing partnership with the state of Colorado, and we are eager to continue to meet the state's correctional needs with the same, continued high level of commitment," Thompson said
at 11:46 AM
In the face of a growing number of deaths and cases of HIV linked to drug abuse, the Portuguese government in 2001 tried a new tack to get a handle on the problem—it decriminalized the use and possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, LSD and other illicit street drugs. The theory: focusing on treatment and prevention instead of jailing users would decrease the number of deaths and infections.
Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006, according to a report released recently by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C, libertarian think tank.
"Now instead of being put into prison, addicts are going to treatment centers and they're learning how to control their drug usage or getting off drugs entirely," report author Glenn Greenwald, a former New York State constitutional litigator, said during a press briefing at Cato last week.
Under the Portuguese plan, penalties for people caught dealing and trafficking drugs are unchanged; dealers are still jailed and subjected to fines depending on the crime. But people caught using or possessing small amounts—defined as the amount needed for 10 days of personal use—are brought before what's known as a "Dissuasion Commission," an administrative body created by the 2001 law.
Each three-person commission includes at least one lawyer or judge and one health care or social services worker. The panel has the option of recommending treatment, a small fine, or no sanction.
Peter Reuter, a criminologist at the University of Maryland, College Park, says he's skeptical decriminalization was the sole reason drug use slid in Portugal, noting that another factor, especially among teens, was a global decline in marijuana use. By the same token, he notes that critics were wrong in their warnings that decriminalizing drugs would make Lisbon a drug mecca.
"Drug decriminalization did reach its primary goal in Portugal," of reducing the health consequences of drug use, he says, "and did not lead to Lisbon becoming a drug tourist destination."
at 11:33 AM