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, February 25, 2011

Author: Racial caste system redesigned as criminal-justice system - The Denver Post

Author: Racial caste system redesigned as criminal-justice system - The Denver Post

Jim Crow laws that promoted segregation and stripped blacks of voting rights during the past two centuries were wiped off the books by 1960s civil-rights legislation, but they have reappeared in another guise, a race expert argued in several Denver forums this week.

Michelle Alexander, a civil-rights lawyer turned scholar, said America's racial caste system didn't disappear — it's just been redesigned as the criminal-justice system.

It continues to control and oppress young men of color, said Alexander, author of the 2010 book "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."

The "war on drugs," three-strikes laws and other mandatory-sentencing measures instituted since the 1980s disproportionately punish poor minorities, she said.

In the past 30 years, the U.S. prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million, with drug convictions accounting for most of the increase. While denying any conspiracy, federal sentencing councils have nonetheless recognized that laws requiring harsher punishment for crack-cocaine possession than the powder version disproportionately affected black males, and some have been rolled back.

The racial dimension, Alexander said, is the most striking feature of mass incarceration.

What she calls selective prosecution has led to an astounding percentage of the African-American community being warehoused in prisons, she said.

Many are imprisoned for minor drug offenses committed just as frequently by white Americans, but the laws are enforced more often against minorities, she said.

The U.S. Department of Justice reports that boys born in 2001 face the following odds of going to prison: 1 in 17 for whites; 1 in 6 for Latinos; and 1 in 3 for African-Americans.

In Colorado, as of 2007, African-Americans made up 3.8 percent of the state's general population but 19.4 percent of the prison population, according to a Colorado Department of Corrections report.

Read more: Author: Racial caste system redesigned as criminal-justice system - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17477932#ixzz1EyUDWnUx
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