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, July 18, 2011

The case a lawyer wouldn't give up on

The case a lawyer wouldn't give up on

Defense lawyer Elvin Gentry was walking into the El Paso County courthouse this year as an assistant district attorney was walking out. The prosecutor stopped Gentry to chat about the news that outgoing Gov. Bill Ritter had just commuted the life sentence of one of Colorado Springs' most notorious killers, a woman named Jennifer Reali.

"Did you have a hand in that?" the prosecutor asked.

Gentry, a fixture in state legal circles since 1970, said he did indeed. The other lawyer was incredulous: "Must be nice to have a lawyer stick with you for 20 years."

Though it may have faded from memory for some, it was a case that never went away for Gentry. Reali has remained a presence in Gentry's life. An amiable lawyer cut from the "Matlock" mold, Gentry passed retirement age years ago but has no plans to quit.

"I'm the kind of guy who once a case is closed, after we've done everything we can do, I move on; it's history," he said. "This case has never been history to me. I knew from Day One I was going to do something. I wasn't going to leave a 30-year-old in prison for 40 years."

It was a crime that both horrified and transfixed, capturing national attention in the early 1990s as the "Fatal Attraction" killing. Reali, a pretty born-again Christian, wife of an Army captain and mother of two, had never been in trouble before.

But on Sept. 12, 1990, she ambushed and gunned down the disabled wife of her lover as the victim pleaded for mercy. Reali insisted it was her lover, Brian Hood, who instigated the crime; first seducing her and then, by using Bible verses, convincing her that killing his wife was God's will. Hood, convicted on lesser charges, said Reali acted alone, becoming obsessed with him when he tried to end the affair.

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