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.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Colorado inmates train wild mustangs to help guard the nation's rugged borders - The Denver Post

Colorado inmates train wild mustangs to help guard the nation's rugged borders - The Denver Post

It is, to say the least, an unlikely alliance.

The horses arrive without names or manners. They are taught to behave by Colorado inmates serving time for robbery, burglary and other crimes. The horses are then deployed along the nation's borders to stop crime — helping catch 500 illegal immigrants in one stretch of the Mexican border alone.

So far, this combination of the untamed and confined has worked well for law enforcement. The horses are well- trained by inmates who learn a trade in the process, and the horses' unique skills allow Border Patrol agents to visit rugged stretches with few provisions.

The wild horses are prized for their toughness. Rocks? Not a problem. No pastures? Anything green or brown

will do. Frozen lakes and rivers? They'll eat snow.

"The mustangs never had a water trough," said Dick Graham, patrol agent in charge of the U.S. Border Patrol station in Oroville, Wash., northwest of Spokane. "It shows you how self-sufficient they are."

As he spoke, Shorty chomped big bites of fresh snow off the ground as a U.S. Border Patrol wrangler saddled him up for a day of work along the U.S.-Canada border.

Mustangs like Shorty were molded by trials. They fended off mountain lions using large hooves or more likely galloped safely away from them on thick- boned, sturdy legs through rocky, cactus-choked ravines infested with rattlesnakes.

The mixed-breed, mangy horses descended from ancestors that escaped from Spanish explorers, U.S. cavalry soldiers, gold miners and ranchers.

All Shorty needed to channel generations of wilderness experience to become a valuable Border Patrol mount was some gentle coaxing by horse trainers.

That's where prisoners at Four Mile Correctional Center in CaƱon City came in.

Lessons in training horses

Four years ago, now-retired Border Patrol supervisor Lee Pinkerton called Colorado prison officials and asked whether the

inmates who had been training wild mustangs since 1986 to become working ranch horses could also train them to chase down drug and human smugglers.

Pinkerton's idea has since evolved into a nationwide program called Project Noble Mustang. At the time, Shorty was still roaming the Western plains.

The Bureau of Land Management rounded up him and dozens of other mustangs from four wild herds in Colorado and from herds across the West for the Border Patrol.

No comments: