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, August 15, 2011

Family members of sex offenders organize lawsuit against Colorado's indeterminate sentences - The Denver Post

Family members of sex offenders organize lawsuit against Colorado's indeterminate sentences - The Denver Post

Paul Allen, his parents and his attorney thought he'd serve his probation and move on once he pleaded guilty in 1999 to bouncing a child relative on his knee while sexually aroused.

But after his attempts to recant and withdraw that plea got him booted out of therapy, a judge resentenced him to two years to life in state prison.

A decade later, he's still there.

Allen, 40, was one of the first men sentenced under a 1998 law designed to give mid- to high-level sex offenders a choice: Get treatment behind bars or stay there for life.

Years later, a lack of therapy resources and a parole board reluctant to release even treated sex offenders has blocked the exit out of prison for hundreds of inmates on so-called indeterminate sentences.

Defense attorneys, offenders and their families say the state has broken its promise to treat and release these inmates. Family members are organizing a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Corrections.

Sixty-six of 1,659 sex offenders in custody on indeterminate sentences had eventually been paroled as of June 30, 2010, according to the department's most recent annual report on the program.

Nearly as many inmates are waiting for sex-offender treatment — 300 — as the 345 who are currently receiving it, corrections officials report.

After watching fellow inmates try and try again at therapy, only to be denied parole anyway, Allen waited until 2009 to ask for treatment.

He's halfway through the first phase.

"This wasn't meant to be a life sentence. This was supposed to be an education thing," Allen said.

In 1998 some Colorado lawmakers wanted to institutionalize sex offenders once they served their criminal sentences. Then-state Sen. Majority Leader Norma Anderson wanted something less costly and more fair, she said.

The Lifetime Supervision Act was born.

Judges now pick a minimum sentence for people convicted of certain sex offenses, which ranges from probation to time in prison. The maximum is automatically set at life in prison.

Before locked-up offenders can be recommended for parole, they must complete two phases of therapy.

Then, Colorado Parole Board members decide whether those inmates can re-enter the community on specialized and lengthy probation.

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