For the last 40 years, we have largely relegated health problems like substance abuse and mental health disorders to the criminal justice system. As a result, millions of people are burdened by felony convictions due to drug use, and those who cannot afford to pay for treatment have had to be locked in cells in order to get access to necessary care.
Now, we have a chance to do something new. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represents a remarkable opportunity for criminal justice and drug policy reform advocates to advance efforts to enact policy changes that promote safe and healthy communities, without excessively relying on criminal justice solutions that have become so prevalent under the War on Drugs, and which fall so disproportionately on low-income communities and communities of color. Even with its challenges, the ACA sets the stage for a new health-oriented policy framework to address problems such as substance use and mental health disorders by more appropriately and effectively casting substance use and mental health disorders as matters of public health and not of criminal justice. Our task is to make the most of it.
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.
Friday, December 13, 2013