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.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Solitary confinement in Colorado - Boulder Daily Camera

Solitary confinement in Colorado - Boulder Daily Camera

In the state of Colorado, the number of mentally ill or developmentally disabled prison inmates in solitary confinement has more than doubled in about 10 years.

According to the Colorado Department of Corrections, in 1999, 15 percent of inmates in solitary confinement were mentally ill or developmentally disabled. In 2008, it was 37 percent.

Most people`s exposure to solitary confinement is from pop culture: In reality in Colorado it is 23 hours of daily isolation with no human contact. There are about 1,400 people in solitary confinement in Colorado today. They will spend an average of 16 months there, according to the department.

Solitary confinement is more expensive than regular prison -- the low end of the increased costs is about $15,000 per inmate. And 41 percent of prisoners released from solitary are really released: They`re put on parole or their time has been served, they head right back into the community, rather than back into general prison population to readjust to human contact.

For the mentally ill, it is an overwhelming prospect.

Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, is sponsoring a bill that would address this issue. The proposal has the support of a coalition that includes state branches of the ACLU, Mental Health America and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

We hope the proposal gets its due: As drafted so far, the law would create a process to evaluate inmates for mental health issues, while still allowing wardens to confine people who are a security risk. It would ensure that those so confined would be put back into the general prison population before their release from prison.

It`s easy to dismiss what goes on inside prison walls if you`ve never been inside them. It`s easy, too, to take a "tough on crime" stance that is absolute in nature. People who seem most opposed to prison reform find some comfort in thinking that once a person is put in prison, they get whatever it is they deserve.

This is clouded thinking, for several reasons. Lawyers, judges and juries work out various convictions and sentences for those who run afoul of the law, even those who do so heinously. Many will be sent to prison, some for the rest of their lives, but most for various lengths of time. But none of those convicted is sentenced to a place of torture; none is sentenced to be raped or otherwise assaulted; none is sentenced to mental abuse.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that there needs to be prison BUT no need for the toture and abuse. My friend is Tommy Silverstein and his life inside shows exactly what the prison system is capable of in human torture and abuse and how long "they" will carry it out seems in Tom's case FOREVER 3 decades now.