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.

Monday, June 06, 2011

More foreign inmates crowding Colorado prisons - The Denver Post

More foreign inmates crowding Colorado prisons - The Denver Post

Criminals find their way to Colorado prisons from Mongolia, Iraq, the Czech Republic, the Fiji Islands and 75 other nations.

Those foreign inmates will likely be eligible for deportation as soon as their sentences are complete. In the meantime, they are among the fastest-growing segments of the state's prison population and a growing drain on already-scarce resources at the Department of Corrections.

Since 2005, the number of Colorado's foreign-born inmates has increased 51 percent to 1,953.

Those with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainers have more than doubled in 10 years from 680 to 1,500, said Tom Clements, executive director of the state Department of Corrections.

"That's huge," Clements said.

Managing inmates who don't speak English requires interpreters. It is more costly and adds to the complexity of running prisons, he said.

While the cost for holding such inmates continues to rise, financial support that Colorado receives from the federal government is decreasing.

In a 2010 letter to federal authorities, state Attorney General John Suthers decried the $58 million price tag for holding the prisoners in fiscal year 2008. It costs more than $30,000 a year to house each of the inmates.

At the time, the federal government's State Criminal Alien Assistance Program reimbursed Colorado $3.3 million, or about 6 percent of the state's costs. The amount has since dropped to $2.9 million even as the number of foreign inmates continues to rise.

In 1996, by comparison, Colorado got $5.3 million from the same program and had only 618 foreign-born inmates, less than a third of the current number.

"To receive less than full reimbursement for the use of state facilities to house illegal immigrants is an unacceptable, unfunded federal mandate," Suthers said.

The most efficient way to reduce that population, and the expense, would be to turn over inmates who are eligible for deportation to federal authorities so they can be sent home.

Parole-board solution

Senate Bill 241, passed this year and sponsored by Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, and Steve King, R-Grand Junction, urges the Colorado parole board to parole "non-violent" foreign inmates with detainers who pose a medium risk of reoffending.

The bill says there will be a "presumption" subject to parole-board discretion that such offenders will be turned over to ICE for deportation.

Clements said his staff is determining how many inmates fall under the parameters of the bill and will present their names to the parole board. If ICE does not deport the inmates, the board could rescind the parole.

"It's not mandatory," Clements said. "The parole board can look at that and make a discretionary call."

Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said that in March 2009, the state changed a policy in which it would put foreign-born inmates on inactive parole when those inmates were turned over to ICE.

Read more: More foreign inmates crowding Colorado prisons - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_18213601#ixzz1OUqgAfDS
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