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, March 13, 2011

Editorial: Make Colorado next to end death penalty - The Denver Post

Editorial: Make Colorado next to end death penalty - The Denver Post

Illinois last week became the 16th state in the union to end capital punishment. Colorado should become the 17th.

Unfortunately, there's no effort afoot in Colorado's statehouse to end our unfortunate and long run with the death penalty.

In 2009, a bill that would have eliminated the death penalty in Colorado and used expected savings to pay for the investigation of unsolved homicides cleared the House. But its fate hung on uncertainty. Gov. Bill Ritter wouldn't even tell Coloradans where he stood on the bill, or on the death penalty. Eventually, the bill died in the Senate.

With Republicans now controlling the House, there's been no talk of resurrecting the issue. And when he was running for office last fall, Gov. John Hickenlooper said, in response to a Denver Post questionnaire, that he thought the death penalty should be "restricted" but opposed its repeal.

Yet in Illinois, lawmakers and others know all too well the dangers inherent in carrying out the death penalty. In 2000, then-Gov. George Ryan placed a moratorium on executions after a series of death row inmates were exonerated.

Sometimes, an innocent person is condemned to die. Watching prisoners walk free after being cleared of a crime by some scientific development, such as DNA testing, has become almost routine.

Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the death penalty ban, while also commuting the sentences of the 15 inmates on death row. They will serve life in prison without parole. Illinois last performed an execution in 1999.

Quinn spent two months weighing whether to sign the bill, calling it the "most difficult decision" he's had to make as governor, according to a story on Politico.com.

The Denver Post has long opposed the death penalty. We believe that death is an ineffective sentence for a society that should value life.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, in the past, has made the case for the death penalty by saying it's crucial in discouraging future horrific criminal behavior. Yet there is very little evidence that the death penalty discourages violent crime.

He also contends the only deterrent some violent inmates have to murdering a guard or fellow inmate is the threat of the death penalty. That argument is more difficult to bat down.

Read more: Editorial: Make Colorado next to end death penalty - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_17586851#ixzz1GUIBKvzB
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