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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Colorado prison program teaches inmates renewable energy job skills for a greener life on the outside - The Denver Post

Colorado prison program teaches inmates renewable energy job skills for a greener life on the outside - The Denver Post

It's a far cry from making license plates.

A Colorado Department of Corrections program is now teaching career skills in renewable energy fields to inmates whose pre-arrest job capabilities may have become obsolete while they have been in prison.

Inmates who pass the program at Fremont Correctional Facility in CaƱon City earn certificates and 20 college credits. It could give them the edge they need to get a job, which in turn could help them stay out of trouble, class instructor Randy Twilliger said.

After he heard about the new vocational class, Tommy Shanteler, who is serving an eight-year prison sentence for escape, immediately recognized its advantage.

"Everything is turning green; why not get educated?" Shanteler said in a recent interview in his third-tier cell as he leaned against a barred window ledge. "It's my chance to become a productive member of society."

Shanteler, 26, spoke rapidly and his hands moved quickly later in the day as he showed two fellow inmates how to wire components of a house solar system together on a prison-made control panel. His future is in green energy production, he proclaimed.

Twilliger said he's taught vocational courses for years, but he's never had such high attendance and participation. His prison students attend class five hours a day and then return to their cells to do homework out of a textbook. They also write essays and take challenging tests.

"They all kind of know this is the new frontier," he said. "I think this is really going to take off."

Twilliger has had to use leftover scraps of metal and wiring and discarded boards to piece together teaching materials like the control panel Shanteler was working on, he said. There is little funding for such a program, so he makes do with what he can find.

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