Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
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, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/nlofholm
How to helpPrivate 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.
at 11:26 AM
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
©2012 CCJRC 1212 Mariposa St. #6, Denver, CO 80204
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at 5:18 PM
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.
at 7:20 AM
Sunday, October 14, 2012
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.
at 8:08 AM
at 8:04 AM
Monday, October 08, 2012
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.
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.
at 10:39 AM
Friday, October 05, 2012
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.
at 2:42 PM