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, May 08, 2011

Wild Horse Inmate Program in Colorado

It’s been 25 years since the Bureau of Land Management decided to speed up adoptions of wild horses by using prison inmates to train them. Since then nearly 5,000 animals have been gentled or saddle trained in the Wild Horse Inmate Program and adopted out.

Fran Ackley, who runs the BLM wild horse facility outside of Canon City, Colo., says the U.S. Border Patrol buys many of the inmate-trained horses.

“American mustangs working to protect America's borders, it just seems like a natural fit. We've adopted 95 horses to the U.S. Border Patrol, mostly on the southern border, but we have almost 30 horses on the northern border as well.”

Agents on horseback can patrol remote terrain where motorized vehicles just can’t get. And when it comes to horses, Mustangs bred in the wild are toughest and most sure-footed there are.

That’s why, Ackley says, they are the preferred choice of the Border Patrol. “They really like the quality of the horses (and) they use them all day, every day. And they can handle it: they're durable, they don't give out, they have really tough feet.”

With the nation’s renewed emphasis on border security, the Border Patrol plans to increase the use of horse patrols. Another 70 Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) animals are on order.

Using inmates to do the training saves taxpayers money in several ways. Saddle-trained WHIP animals cost $1,025 each. That’s about the same as it would cost to lease a comparable horse for a year, and less than half what it would cost to buy one from a private seller.

And trained horses not bought by the Border Patrol are much more likely to get adopted by members of the general public. In 2010, more than 40 percent of the BLM’s $64-million Wild Horse and Burro budget went to the care and feeding of animals that no one would adopt. Taxpayers no longer have to pay for animals adopted out. Untrained horses can be adopted for just $125, but takers for unbroken horses are much harder to find.

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