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.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

ACLU: States Benefit By Lowering Prison Terms - KGMI-AM

ACLU: States Benefit By Lowering Prison Terms - KGMI-AM
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Six U.S. states that reduced incarceration rates by focusing on parole or probation instead of prison time have cut costs without increasing crime rates, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The report by the American Civil Liberties Union highlights Texas, Mississippi, Kansas, South Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio as traditionally "tough-on-crime" states that benefited from reducing incarceration rates.

Four more states -- California, Louisiana, Maryland and Indiana -- are in the midst of reform, said the report by the ACLU's Center for Justice, an advocacy group that supports less-stringent penalties for nonviolent offenses.

"The costs of using incarceration as an option of first -- rather than last -- resort far outweighs any benefit to public safety," ACLU advocacy and policy counsel Inimai Chettiar said in a statement accompanying the report.

State and federal governments spend about $70 billion annually on prisons and corrections, with state corrections spending having skyrocketed 674 percent over the last 25 years, according to the ACLU.


Some of the changes noted by the report as having a positive impact include:

* Decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana

* Reducing sentencing disparity between different types of drugs

* Ending mandatory minimum sentences

* Pushing treatment and parole over prison for non-violent offenders

* Letting prisoners earn credit toward early release

* Creating parole programs for elderly prisoners who are no longer a threat.

Sentencing reform has united political progressives like the ACLU with conservatives in states like Texas, said Michael Jacobson, the director of the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonpartisan criminal law research center in New York.

"There's a sense now that you're just not getting a good return on your investment from dumping $70 billion a year into prisons," Jacobson said. "A surprising number of conservative folks talk about this issue the way the ACLU might talk about it -- we're spending too much and getting too little."

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