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, April 15, 2012

Prison on the plains is a city unto itself | animas, brown, sits - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

Prison on the plains is a city unto itself | animas, brown, sits - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

From the outside, Bent County Correctional Facility in Las Animas looks as silent and colorless as the flat plain on which it sits, bleached pale brown.
A drive down 6th Street takes travelers through Las Animas’ empty center, out of town and past empty past fields, until the prison appears. But on an early April morning, the rural setting was deceptive — inside the prison’s neat walls more than 1,420 men had eaten their breakfast and shuffled off to computer classes, the barber shop, a catholic mass, and other daily activities.
Built in 1993, Bent County became Colorado’s first privately run prison in 1996 when the Corrections Corporation of America bought it.
It’s a business with 285 employees, but it is also a small city that relies on Bent County for just about everything except toilet paper and propane. The prison spends about $900,000 for local products and produce — for instance, the dairy products come from nearby Gohlson’s Dairy.
While a county jail can feel like a kennel, with a stench and no-nonsense discipline, Bent County feels like the home it has become, for better or for worse, for its medium security inmates. It is at home in the county, too, with inmates and staff filling the roles of painters, decorators and school bus cleaners.
Forty-five percent of the prison’s employees live in Bent County, the rest come from nearby Otero and Prowers Counties. Warden Brigham Sloan hired the facility’s computer science teacher, Tim Berry, after the two met on the bleachers during their sons’ football game.
“This is where we all live. We’re not just employees of a company town,” Sloan said. “This is our hometown.”
The prison is a well-oiled machine with the credentials to prove it — it recently was awarded a score of 100 percent, its third since 2003, from the American Correctional Association (ACA).
Since the 1870s, the ACA has run inspections, or audits, of U.S. prisons every three years. In September, auditors came to Bent to scrutinize programs, policies and inmates. Sloan said it’s the top of the mountain when it comes to inspections, but only one of several — fire safety, food programs, health — inspections the prison goes through regularly.

Read more: http://www.gazette.com/articles/animas-136876-brown-sits.html#ixzz1s7A83xXn

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