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, October 25, 2012


It has recently come to our (CCJRC's)  attention that the service we use (Feedblitz) to send out our blog
"Think Outside the Cage" has been embedding political ads in their

This was done without our knowledge or consent. 

CCJRC is a non-profit organization that does not oppose or support candidates for
any political office.  We apologize for any misinterpretation this may have caused and we will
make sure that we have solved that problem before we send out any further
blog information.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Robert Dewey Rides Into a New Future

The Denver Post

GRAND JUNCTION — When Robert Dewey's cellphone jangles in his pocket, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" is the ringtone.
Dewey said it's just one way he has to remind himself that he really is free after spending 16 years in prison proclaiming his innocence for a gruesome rape and murder that put him there.
"It was like being in a roomful of people, like, I am here and I'm yelling and you can't hear me," Dewey told a classroom of criminal justice students Monday evening at Colorado Mesa University.
His visit marked the first time Dewey, 51, has spoken publicly about his ordeal in the town where he was convicted in 1996 and exonerated in April.
Dewey told the students — many of whom were still in diapers when he went to prison — that his main message is that they should "look beyond the cover of any book and read a few chapters."
Dewey is heavily tattooed. His hair hangs below his waist. He is back to wearing the biker leathers that were the costume of his preprison existence. And he hasn't toned down the tough-guy talk.
"Robert's the same. He hasn't changed a bit," said Steve Laiche, one of the attorneys who originally represented Dewey and who continued to work on Dewey's defense while he was in prison.
Laiche also teaches the criminal justice class where Dewey spoke in a rambling, profanity- and humor-laced question-and-answer session that ended with one student handing him $20, others giving him hugs and handshakes, and some posing for cellphone photos with him.
"How does it feel to be a celebrity," one student asked and got only a chuckle in response.
Dewey was anything but a celebrity in 1994 when 19-year-old Jacie Taylor was murdered. Her body was found in her Palisade apartment in a neighborhood that was the epicenter of a growing methamphetamine subculture.
Dewey was identified as a suspect based on the changing stories of other meth users and on his suspicious and furtive behavior. Blood on the Texaco shirt he often wore at the time was identified as possibly being Taylor's based on early DNA tests.
Dewey candidly told the students Monday that the blood on the shirt was his — a result of shooting up drugs.
That was proven to be true, and Dewey was exonerated after much more sophisticated blood testing also showed DNA samples in Taylor's apartment belonged to a man now serving a 40-year sentence for the murder of another woman in Fort Collins. Douglas Thames, who also lived near Taylor, is going to be tried for her murder.
Since shortly after he was released, Dewey has been living in Colorado Springs with a girlfriend he knew before he went to prison and her 8-year-old son. He had back surgery a month ago to remove pins and screws that a prison surgeon used to treat injured discs. A still ruddy scar slices through a dragon tattoo on his back. He lives on $698 a month in disability payments.
His focus has been on rebuilding an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle because it was imaginary motorcycles that got him through prison. He spent much of his time behind bars fantasizing about riding.
"I would picture myself walking down a sidewalk lined with bikes, and I'd pick one and ride away," he said.
Dewey said he's not sure what he wants to do with his life now. Decisions come hard because he had few opportunities in prison to make choices. He "blows circuits" on something as simple as picking food from a menu, much less choosing a career after he received no training in prison because of his "lifer" status.
Dewey may be telling his story next to the Colorado legislature. Several legislators are working on a measure that would give compensation to the wrongly convicted who are exonerated based on new DNA testing. There are 23 states that offer such compensation.
Nancy Lofholm: 970-256-1957, nlofholm@denverpost.com or twitter.com/nlofholm

How to help

Private donations have been helping Robert Dewey — who was exonerated of a rape and murder conviction after 16 years in prison — to live and to finish building his dream motorcycle. Contributions can be sent in care of his Denver attorney: Danyel Joffe, 1626 Washington St., Denver, CO, 80203.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The New Go Guide!

October 2012

Getting On After Getting Out: 
A re-entry guide for Colorado--third edition

A lot has changed since the 2nd edition of the GO Guide was released in January 2011.
GET THE LATEST INFORMATION about legislative changes in 2011 and 2012. The 3rd edition includes details on changes to earned time (SB 11-176 and HB12-1223), the two new presumptions of parole and the redesign of special needs parole (SB11-241 and HB11-1064), revisions to record sealing (HB11-1167), sex offender registration changes for people who are homeless (HB12-1346) and state employment and licensing opportunities for people with criminal records (HB12-1263).
GET THE LATEST INFORMATION about new initiatives by the DOC. The 3rd edition includes details about "date-earned" parole and the Community Corrections Technical Regression Pilot Program.  You can also learn more about revisions to DOC policy on  parole revocationsdriving while on parole, just to name a few.
THE 3rd EDITION IS ALSO A MUST READ if you want to have updated information on organizations and agencies in the community that can help people be successful after release in finding housing, employment, and medical or substance abuse treatment.
You can purchase a copy for yourself or for someone in need at www.ccjrc.org   The price is $10 plus 3.00 for shipping and handling.
CCJRC also offers a quantity discount and a non profit discount for organizations that work directly with people involved with the criminal justice system.
You can contact us at 303-825-0122 or email Pam (pam@ccjrc.org) or Ellen (ellen@ccjrc.org) if you have any questions or additional information.

Whatever the reason you support CCJRC, we thank you. Your involvement gives CCJRC the ability to fight for change and enables us to bring a message of hope to the tens of thousands of people affected by Colorado’s current criminal justice policies and practices.  Thank you again for your support!

Christie Donner, Executive Director
Pamela Clifton, Communications Coordinator\
Ellen Toomey-Hale, Finance and Development Coordinator
John Riley, Coalition Coordinator

"I am paroling home.  I leave in 6 days. This book is awesome!  It is jam packed with  a tremendous amount of useful info...thank you so much for caring enough to produce and publish this book." -- Frank V.
"This guide provides real help for people transitioning  from prison to the community.  I urge every offender and those who work with them to use this tool to help overcome obstacles to successful re-entry--to achieve real success in life."
--Tom Clements, Executive Director Colorado Department of Corrections.


©2012 CCJRC 1212 Mariposa St. #6, Denver, CO 80204
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Fourm Focuses on Colorado's high rate of incarceration

The Coloradoan

Colorado’s incarceration rate is the 18th highest in the nation. And the United States imprisons more people than any other in the world, including Russia, China and Iran. How did we get here?
Christie Donner, executive director and founder of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, with 15 years of experience in criminal justice advocacy, will examine some of the significant policies that have driven the growth of prison population and the parallel growth in Colorado’s Department of Correction’s budget, which in fiscal year 2012-13 has climbed to $737 million. Her talk is open to the public, and there is no admission charge.
The program, sponsored by the Northern Colorado Chapter of the ACLU of Colorado, will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 24 in the meeting room of The Coloradoan, 1300 Riverside Ave., Fort Collins.
Are there more effective and better uses of our tax dollars than prisons, especially for nonviolent offenders? Is it time to re-think “get tough” sentencing? Are private prisons run by the for-profit prison industry an answer?
We invite members of the public to join us in learning more about the critical issue of high rate of incarceration in Colorado and in discussing the various less costly, more effective alternatives now available.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Private Prison in Violation of Ohio State Law

The Huffington Post
The nation’s first privately owned prison could be under fire after an audit report released last week by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODFC), revealed the prison has failed to meet state standards.
The Ohio Correctional facility, formerly a state prison, bought by the Corrections Corporation of America, (COC) was cited for 47 violations according to the audit report. The nature of the violations included quality of food, hygiene and sanitation among many others.
City Beat described the sub-standard conditions of the prison in a recent article.
The report says “there has been a big staff turnover,” and only one staff person was properly trained to meet Ohio Risk Assessment System standards. The audit found that a workplace violence liaison wasn’t appointed or trained. Inmates complained they felt unsafe and that staff “had their hands tied’” and “had little control over some situations.” The local fire plan had no specific steps to release inmates from locked areas in case of emergency, and local employees said “they had no idea what they should do” in case of a fire emergency.
The report described overcrowding in the prison, as inmates in double bunked cells had an additional inmate sleeping on the floor. Additionally, the sizes of the inmate cells are smaller than the required measurements and some single inmate cells housed two inmates. The Associated Press also reported "auditors found mildew in showers and an unmarked urine specimen on a desk. It says inmates operated a meat slicer with no safety guards."
What was perhaps the most disturbing violation, were inmate claims that laundry and cell cleaning services were not provided, recreation time was not consistent as required, food quality and sanitation standards were sub par. According to City Beat, CCA could not provide documentation to prove otherwise.
States like Ohio, who are strapped for cash have in recent years embraced the extra income that comes with peddling prisons to companies like CCA. Although it may take the financial burden off the state budget, reports show that it actually costs more to run a private prison than a state run facility.

Juvenile Killers and Life Terms--A case in point

New York Times

LA BELLE, Pa. — To this day, Maurice Bailey goes to sleep trying to understand what happened on Nov. 6, 1993, when as a 15-year-old high school student he killed his 15-year-old girlfriend, Kristina Grill, a classmate who was pregnant with his child.
“I go over it pretty much every night,” said Mr. Bailey, now 34, sitting in his brown jumpsuit here at the Fayette State Correctional Institution in western Pennsylvania, where he is serving a sentence of life without parole for first-degree murder. “I don’t want to make excuses. It’s a horrible act I committed. But as you get older, your conscience and insight develop. I’m not the same person.”
Every night, Bobbi Jamriska tries to avoid going over that same event. Ms. Jamriska, Kristina’s sister, was a 22-year-old out for a drink with friends when she got the news. Ten months later, their inconsolable mother died of complications from pneumonia. Weeks later, their grandmother died.
“During that year, I buried four generations of my family,” Ms. Jamriska said at the dining room table of her Pittsburgh house, taking note of her sister’s unborn child. “This wrecked my whole life. It completely changed the person I was.”
When the Supreme Court in June banned life sentences without parole for those under age 18 convicted of murder, it offered rare hope to more than 2,000 juvenile offenders like Mr. Bailey. But it threw Ms. Jamriska and thousands like her into anguished turmoil at the prospect that the killers of their loved ones might walk the streets again.
The ruling did not specify whether it applied retroactively to those in prison or to future juvenile felons. As state legislatures and courts struggle for answers, the clash of the two perspectives represented by Mr. Bailey and Ms. Jamriska is shaping the debate.
Resentencing hearings have begun in a few places, but very slowly.
The governor of Iowa commuted the mandatory life sentences of his state’s juvenile offenders but said they had to stay in jail for 60 years before seeking parole, which critics said amounted to life in prison. Some Iowa resentencing is starting in courts despite that proclamation.
In Florida, a few hearings are in early stages even though an intermediate court ruled that juveniles serving mandatory life terms did not have the right to be resentenced. In North Carolina, life without parole has been changed from a requirement to an option, with a 25-year minimum sentence for those seeking parole.
Here in Pennsylvania, which has the most juvenile offenders serving life terms — about 480 — the State Supreme Court is examining retroactivity while the legislature works on a bill that would put felons like Mr. Bailey behind bars for a minimum of 35 years.
The United States Supreme Court decision said that sentences of life without parole for juveniles failed to take account of the role of the offender in the crime (killer or accomplice), the family background (stable or abusive) and the incomplete brain development of the young. Recent research has found that youths are prone to miscalculate risks and consequences, and that their moral compasses are not fully developed. They can change as they get older.
Mr. Bailey was a good student with no criminal record. He is black and Ms. Grill was white, and many classmates thought of them as a chic couple.
“Reese was someone everyone wanted to be friends with, and so was Krissy,” said Shavera Maxwell, a former classmate, using the couple’s nicknames. “They were deeply in love, and she wanted to keep the baby. He didn’t.”
Kristina’s father, who did not live at home, was known for a bigoted attitude, so Kristina kept her relationship with Maurice secret from him.
Maurice’s father, an electrical engineer who had tensions with white co-workers, also disapproved of the interracial romance. One day when he came home early, he caught the couple in bed. He threw her out and beat Maurice, knocking his head into a wall.
Maurice’s mother, Debra Bailey, felt differently. She welcomed Kristina into her home. “Krissy’s 15th birthday was celebrated with a barbecue in our backyard,” said Ms. Bailey, a database coordinator at Carnegie Mellon University, who is now divorced from Maurice’s father. “Her family didn’t come. Those two were too young to be doing what they were doing, but I told her that if she got pregnant, we would deal with it.”
Kristina told a friend, Pamela Cheeks, the night before she was killed that she was about to tell her family about her pregnancy and that she was meeting Maurice the next day to discuss their future, Ms. Cheeks said in an interview. In her diary, Kristina wrote that Maurice “better show up” at their agreed time and place.
Maurice did meet Kristina that Saturday afternoon at an elementary school playground. He came with a knife, stabbed her repeatedly in the neck and upper body and left her on the ground. Before leaving, he told the police at the time, he zipped up her jacket in a vain effort to stem the bleeding.
He hid the knife in the woods and went home. In the prison interview, he said he remembered very little of the event except that right after stabbing Kristina, her mother, whom he had never met, suddenly came into his mind. When he returned home, the first person he saw was his father. He said he felt an odd sense of relief that the source of tension between them was gone.
Neighborhood youngsters came upon Kristina’s body. Police officers went to her home, where they found her diary with detailed entries of her relationship with Maurice. When the police went to the Bailey home in the middle of that night and woke up Maurice, his mother recalls that he said to them, “I figured you’d come.”
Maurice’s legal defense was built around the pressures he had faced. His father testified in court that he had told Maurice that if Kristina got pregnant, he would kill him. Maurice’s grades were declining as he spent more time with Kristina; he was trying unsuccessfully to break up with her, losing control, growing afraid.
His petition for a new hearing will argue that the pressures he felt as a 15-year-old — a violent father, a pregnant girlfriend — are unique to youth and therefore covered by the Supreme Court ruling. An adult, his lawyers will argue, would have reacted differently.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Prescription for Addiction

Wall Street Journal

Ann and Bruce Kinkade discovered a network of doctors and pharmacies that fueled the addiction that killed their daughter. More Americans now die each year from prescription drug overdoses than from cocaine, heroin and other illegal drugs. Weekend Review editor Gary Rosen discusses the problem with WSJ staff writer Thomas Catan.
Jaclyn Kinkade, a 23-year-old doctor's-office receptionist and occasional model, was a casualty of America's No. 1 drug menace when she overdosed and died, alone, in a tumbledown clapboard house in Dunnellon, Fla.
The drugs that killed her didn't come from the Colombian jungles or an Afghan poppy field. Two of the three drugs found in her system were sold to Ms. Kinkade, legally, at Walgreen Co. WAG -0.35% and CVS Caremark CVS -0.20% shops, the two biggest U.S. pharmacies. Both prescription drugs found in her body were made in the U.S.—the oxycodone in Elizabeth, N.J., by a company being acquired by generic-drug giant Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc., WPI -0.51% and the methadone in Hobart, N.Y., by Covidien Ltd., COV -0.96% another major manufacturer. Every stage of their distribution was government-regulated. In addition, Ms. Kinkade had small amounts of methamphetamine in her system when she died.
The U.S. spends about $15 billion a year fighting illegal drugs, often on foreign soil. But America's deadliest drug epidemic begins and ends at home. More than 15,000 Americans now die annually after overdosing on prescription painkillers called opioids, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—more than from heroin, cocaine and all other illegal drugs combined.
Rising opioid abuse means that drug overdoses are now the single largest cause of accidental death in America. They surpassed traffic accidents in 2009, the most recent CDC data available.
Paradoxically, the legality of prescription painkillers makes their abuse harder to tackle. There is no Pablo Escobar to capture or kill. Authorities must contend with an influential lobby of industry representatives and doctors who argue against more restrictions, saying they would harm legitimate patients. And lawmakers have been reluctant to have the federal government track Americans' prescriptions, leaving states to piece together a patchy, fragmented response.
Ms. Kinkade's final days, and the path of the drugs that killed her, were reconstructed from medical and prescription records, police files and interviews. Many records were assembled by Ms. Kinkade's father and stepmother.
Shuffling through the documents at their living-room table, Bruce Kinkade, a garage-door salesman, and his wife, Ann, said they don't wish to absolve their daughter of responsibility. "We're not naive and want to say she was a perfect angel," said Ann Kinkade, Jaclyn's stepmother.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Addicted to opiates: An in-depth look at heroin in Denver

A life of panhandling on the streets of Denver is brutal, boring and soul-crushing.
Many of those who do it are long-time substance abusers, caught in a vicious cycle: You wouldn't stand out there 12 hours a day unless you desperately needed heroin, and then only another dose of heroin would get you through another 12 hours.
Angel Gamboeck was one of those stuck in that terrible, seemingly endless circle, for much of the past two years in Denver. A young, once-promising girl from the Wisconsin heartland, she ended up here after a failed move West to seek a new life with her boyfriend.
On Denver's streets, Angel lived her life in a series of $15 increments. She'd "fly a sign" for money along the city's busiest
streets, and buy more dope as soon as she'd made enough for the next dose. Most overnights were inside or next to a trash bin near 11th and Osage; dawn meant a "wakeup" shot of heroin and a long trudge back to a begging corner. Beginning Sunday, the Denver Post begins a three-day series based on Angel's trials on the streets. For six months a reporter and photographer followed her, documenting the harsh life and the everyday failures of addicts in the thrall of a dangerous drug.