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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.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Colorado moves death-row inmates so they can exercise outdoors - The Denver Post

Colorado moves death-row inmates so they can exercise outdoors - The Denver Post

The Colorado Department of Corrections has effectively moved the state's death row from Cañon City to Sterling to settle a federal lawsuit originally filed by Chuck E. Cheese killer Nathan Dunlap.

The state's death chamber will remain at Colorado State Penitentiary, but Dunlap and Colorado's two other death-row inmates now live at Sterling Correctional Facility. As their appeals are exhausted and death warrants signed, they will be returned to Cañon City for execution, said DOC spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti.

The move was necessary because Cañon City's high-security prison, which houses 734 of the most dangerous inmates in Colorado, does not have outdoor exercise facilities, she said. Inmates there use an exercise bar located in a cell in each pod one hour a day.

"The only difference at Sterling is the exercise cells are outside in an enclosed concrete courtyard," Sanguinetti said.

The state moved Dunlap and fellow death-row inmates Sir Mario Owens and Robert Ray to the minimum- to maximum-security Sterling prison last month, Sanguinetti said.

All three will be permanently housed in an administrative segregation unit, where they have individual cells apart from the general population.

Death row has been located at Cañon City since the high-security prison was built in the 1990s. Before that, death row had been located at Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, also in Cañon City, since the 1890s.

Dunlap himself originally filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Gail Johnson said she began representing him last year.

"The Constitution requires prisons to provide for basic human needs, and courts have consistently required access to fresh air and sunshine along with food, clothing, shelter, safety and medical care," said Mark Silverstein, ACLU legal director.

Dunlap benefited from a ruling in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that said "even a convicted murderer" was entitled to outdoor exercise.

At Cañon City, Dunlap and the others saw the sun only through small windows.

"Mr. Dunlap is glad to finally have the opportunity once again to breathe fresh air and feel the sun on his skin during his limited out-of-cell exercise time," Johnson said.

He and other death-row inmates are now allowed to exercise outdoors five days a week, Sanguinetti said.

The improved accommodations infuriate Joseph Cannata, founder of Voices of Victims, an advocacy and support group for families of homicide victims.

"They have so many rights when they go to prison," Cannata said. "It just seems so unfair."

Dunlap murdered four people at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora in December 1993. Owens and Ray were sentenced to death for the witness murders in Aurora of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe.

State Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, Javad's mother, said she was never contacted about the decision to move the men who murdered her son and Wolfe in 2005.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Again, DOC is caught in lies. They say that 734 of the most dangerous criminals are housed in CSP. The facts are prisoners who anger DOC guards or simply pull pranks like setting off smoke detectors or snap dish towels are put in CSP and Centennial II. They are in solitary confinement 23 hours a day during the week and 24 hours a day on weekends. Low level drug users who need treatment are in CSP.