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 25, 2011

House remodeling gives former convicts a new lease - The Denver Post

House remodeling gives former convicts a new lease - The Denver Post

Former convict John David Barrera says it's nearly impossible to get a job even 17 years after his release from prison, where he served time for a stabbing.

"When I fill out an application and answer that I'm a convict, most employers won't hire me," Barrera said.

But months after losing a job as a crane operator, Barrera got help finding work from Strong Tower Ministries, a Christian group that helps ex-convicts find jobs.

On Saturday, Barrera was helping contractor Nick Amato put the finishing touches on a house project that employed 13 ex-convicts at different stages during the past four months.

Amato, a private contractor, paid $50,000 for a house at 12975 Elk Place in the Montbello neighborhood that had been damaged in a fire. Investors helped fund the project, and he tapped the Christian charity for manpower.

It gave Barrera and other ex-convicts steady work for about four months.

"I wanted to try and help some guys out," Amato said. "We want to help ex-offenders get plugged back into society."

They hired ex-convicts who seemed sincere about turning their lives around, he said. It helped that some of them were electricians or plumbers, but a lack of construction experience didn't exclude them. Some of the men live in halfway houses.

The garage of the home had been gutted by fire and the rest of the home was heavily damaged. The convicts, with Amato's supervision, rebuilt the garage, put up drywall, laid carpeting and remodeled the kitchen, dining room and bathroom. Most of the ex-convicts learned new skills.

Amato is selling the house for $165,000. He hopes to make a profit, and employees earned $10 to $20 an hour depending on their skills.

It was the first such project in which Strong Tower Ministries teamed up with Amato.

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