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, February 27, 2014

We Are All Criminals - Newsroom

We Are All Criminals - Newsroom

One in four Minnesotans has a criminal record. It’s a record
that employers, landlords, legislators and licensing boards use to shape
policy and determine the character of an individual. It’s an indelible
mark that disproportionately impacts poor and nonwhite Minnesotans. But
how useful is it?

A little over a year ago, I started collecting
stories from what I call the other 75 percent: people who have criminal
histories but no record. That is, people who have gotten away with
crimes. Some participants were gleeful, some embarrassed and some deeply
haunted by guilt over what they had done. But all (200 and counting)
share one thing in common: none was caught.

The stories are part
of a project called We Are All Criminals, and can be found on a website
and as part of a traveling exhibit. We Are All Criminals seeks to remind
viewers that while we have all transgressed, we are also all human and
may be in need of compassion, forgiveness and a second chance.

The stories are humorous, humiliating and humbling, in turn.

the woman who, at age 16, took a summer chemistry experiment too far,
destroying a state park toilet with a homemade explosive; she’s now a
pediatrician, a profession from which she would have been barred had she
been caught.

Or the man who used his federal aid to finance collegiate drug runs; he’s now an attorney, building a nonprofit.

the teacher who would drink to oblivion and somehow drive the long
route home, the social worker who assaulted a classmate out of spite, or
the retiree who greased up St. Paul’s trolley tracks with stolen lard
just to vex the operator.
Each life course would have
been altered significantly had the participants been defined by their
worst act. If each job, housing, college and loan application required
disclosure of the offense and each background check relayed the record
as a marker of the applicant’s true character. Instead, the participants
were defined by their accomplishments rather than their crimes.

Minnesota, we’ve created a state of perpetual penalty, where the
punishment begins when the sentence ends: Legislative sessions see calls
for more broad and stringent collateral sanctions to records, employers
adopt blanket bans on hiring former offenders, and our judiciary has
found that what remedies to the problem exist are illusory in practice.

many people currently are prohibited from reaching their full
potential. We must create a road to redemption for our neighbors,
friends, colleagues and strangers. The first step in doing so is
recognizing that we’re not all that different.
We can
take Pope Francis’ lead: There were reports that upon visiting the
Regina Coeli prison in Rome, the pope confided in the inmates that he
had stolen an apple from the neighbor’s orchard as a child. He wept,
stating that he too was a criminal.

Read more stories at: www.weareallcriminals.com.

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