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.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A tale of two Michaels: One was elected Denver's mayor and the other founded a violent gang - The Denver Post

A tale of two Michaels: One was elected Denver's mayor and the other founded a violent gang - The Denver Post

The Rev. Leon Kelly often tells a cautionary tale of two Michaels who grew up in Denver in the 1980s — one ended up in an early grave and the other will be sworn in Monday as Denver's 45th mayor.

"It is a story about choices," said Kelly, the executive director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives who has worked with tens of thousands of inner-city youth to help them stay away from gangs.

Michael Hancock and Michael Asberry were born in the same year and grew up in the same northeast Denver neighborhood.

They knew each other. Were friends. Lived through similar hard times.

Both were natural-born leaders.

Hancock ran for student council, led a nonprofit, became a city councilman, and on Monday will be sworn in as the mayor of Denver.

Asberry formed the city's most violent criminal gang, Denver's version of the Crips, in the 1980s.

Known as "Cyco" on the streets, Asberry was in and out of prison through his adult life and was trying to put his life in order in 2008 when he was shot and killed in front of an Aurora apartment.

On Monday when Hancock is sworn in, Kelly will be telling the Tale of Two Michaels once again to hundreds of young people at a retreat in Estes Park.

"It still empowers me to use that message — look at these kids, the contrast of two," Kelly said. "It's about choice. It's about who are you going to listen to."

Kelly said he used to believe the root cause for gangs could be blamed on the surroundings, poverty or the culture.

But the story of Hancock and Asberry changed his mind — showing him that the thug life is a choice.

Hancock's hard life story was told eloquently in stirring 30-second television ads. And in a crowded field of candidates, Hancock's remarkable narrative impressed voters.

Raised by a single mother and the youngest of 10, Hancock survived poverty, homelessness and the death of two siblings.

No comments: