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.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Boulder court's caring touch and rewards help drug rehabilitation stick - The Denver Post

Boulder court's caring touch and rewards help drug rehabilitation stick - The Denver Post

A year ago, nobody would have called the now 50-year-old Patty McParland — 30 years addicted to drugs and alcohol, homeless and a frequent squad-car passenger — a success story.

That's what made the $200 voucher for substance-abuse treatment and the free movie passes that Judge Thomas Mulvahill handed down as praise for her new sobriety so meaningful.

McParland beamed as she exited Boulder County's Courtroom I that recent Tuesday morning in December accompanied by the applause of 15 of her peers.

"You get praise. It boosts morale. It helps a lot with that," said McParland, now a year sober and in transitional housing. "A lot of times, even on regular probation, you're doing a great job and the only thing you hear from those people is what you're doing wrong."

Drug courts aren't new — Colorado has 21, including the first opened in Denver in 1994 — but the gift certificates, grocery cards, movie tickets and other goodies this court uses make it stand out, according to District 20 Chief Judge Roxanne Bailin, who launched Boulder's court four years ago.

"One of the critical parts of a successful drug court program is the immediacy of sanctions and the immediacy of rewards," Bailin said. "Tangible rewards maximize success. It relates to the fact that people who are addicted to drugs are really people for whom immediate gratification is important. That's what drug use is."

The system also helps close what can be gaps of months between a failed urine test and a court sanction.

Boulder's success rate has made it a model for other districts exploring problem-solving courts and has prompted Bailin to apply the same gentler approach in a new DUI court and drug courts for families and juveniles.

Positive interactions

With few exceptions, hearings in Courtroom I feel more like counseling sessions than criminal proceedings. Mulvahill's conversations with offenders are open and intensely personal.

He asks one man about recent marital troubles. Another woman answers questions about her father's alcoholism. Friendships, dating lives, job prospects and parenting — nothing is off-limits in the open court.

"I worry when things start to pile up on you," Mulvahill tells a father of five who has turned to a synthetic marijuana substitute called Spice in the past. "You told me you were using that in part to deal with stress."

For many offenders, this can be a rare positive interaction with an authority figure.

Parole officers recom

Read more: Boulder court's caring touch and rewards help drug rehabilitation stick - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17109344#ixzz1BGTyXuOP
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