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 04, 2011

Life After Conviction

"And, it was just luck that i got this job," says Lisa Ward, a convicted drug offender.
Getting a job is hard for anyone in this economy, but for people like Lisa Ward who have a drug conviction on their record, it can be almost impossible.

"They do give up after a thousand no's when they're applying for jobs, you know it's constant rejection, one after another," Ward says.
Like several other states, Colorado recently passed a new law making it easier for convicted drug offenders to petition to have their criminal records sealed. They must first complete their sentence and stay out of trouble for a period of time that depends on their offense.
"My understanding is i have to wait 10 years," Ward says.
Supporters say the new law helps people who have already paid their debt to society.
"And let them go on and live their lives, and not be burdened with the consequences of having this conviction for life, when it doesn't necessarily reflect who they are anymore," says Christie Donnor, from the Criminal Justice Reform Center.
"They petition the court and then the district attorney comes in and takes a position, either they agree to the sealing, or they have a hearing on the sealing," says Mitch Morrissey, a district attorney in Denver.
A judge makes the final decision.
"Under the Colorado law, local and state law enforcement agencies will still have access to these criminal records, as will employers in state regulated fields like medicine and education," says Reporter Alicia Acuna.
Denver district attorney Mitch Morrisey says that's not good enough.
"And the way that this law works is that their record, if sealed in Colorado will be taken off the national crime computer. And then if some law enforcement in another state is looking at somebody to see if they have a criminal record this conviction out of Colorado is not going to show up," Morrisey says.
Lisa ward says she doesn't want to hide, but just move on.
"Having my records sealed would kind of give me an end in sight, like O.K. I can close this chapter now and really put it behind me," Ward says.
The Colorado law took affect on July 1st.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is a poor public policy to force people to leave Colorado in order to get a job. In California if a felon completes their probation, 1203b Penal Code, their conviction is reduced to a misdemeanor and dismissed. No mandatory parole. One strike does not put a mark on the convicted like in Salem, MA days. If enforced the law equally, there would be no illegal aliens competing for US jobs. If we put some of the CEOs in prison and put heavy fines on employers this picture would change dramatically.