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.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hickenlooper's state budget hits education, parks and prisons - The Denver Post

Hickenlooper's state budget hits education, parks and prisons - The Denver Post

Gov. John Hickenlooper proposes shutting down the medium-security prison in Fort Lyon that treats aging and ill inmates as part of correctional budget-cutting plans that would save $10 million.

Closing the prison would save $3 million next year. Hickenlooper also proposes axing prison educational programs to save another $3 million.

Only two years after former Gov. Bill Ritter expanded a program for mentally ill parolees as part of his own cost-cutting plan, Hickenlooper proposes cutting it to save $2.6 million.

An additional $1.3 million will be cut in administrative costs.

"These are challenging times, and the DOC will continue to move forward, not only upholding public safety, but strengthening it," said Tom Clements, executive director of the Department of Corrections.

Katherine Sanguinetti, DOC spokeswoman, drove to the 485-bed Fort Lyon Correctional Facility in southeastern Colorado on Tuesday to tell its 204 employees that the prison would close by Aug. 31, she said.

Employees will be offered positions at other prisons across the state where there are vacancies, she said.

"For a small county like ours, it's pretty devastating," Bent County Commissioner Thomas Wallace said.

Republican critics of the governor jumped on the decision, claiming it showed Hickenlooper cared little for rural Colorado.

"The governor of Denver, John Hickenlooper, has revealed what he thinks of rural southeastern Colorado: absolutely nothing," said outgoing GOP state chairman Dick Wadhams.

Hickenlooper is forming a committee including economic-development experts to review options for using the facilities, Sanguinetti said. The closing of the prison, which is one of Bent County's biggest employers, will be a major economic jolt to the community.

Sanguinetti said the state will return ownership of the prison, which used to be a Veterans Affairs hospital, to the federal government.

Some of the elderly and mentally ill who receive care at the prison will move to the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center or the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility in CaƱon City.

Among the educational programs that could be eliminated are about 50 vocational programs throughout the state's prison system, Sanguinetti said.

The DOC acknowledged that eliminating the programs could leave fewer employment options for departing inmates, perhaps increasing recidivism.

The parole re-entry program tries to help inmates move smoothly back into society but failed to yield projected cost savings.

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