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.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Seond Chance Act Proves it's Worth

The New York Times

With corrections costs exceeding $60 billion a year, state and local governments are rightly focused on making sure that newly released prisoners stay out of jail instead of coming back in through a revolving door.
The Second Chance Act, signed into law by George W. Bush in 2008, was designed to give momentum to this effort, providing money and training for states, local governments and nonprofit organizations to help former prisoners readjust to the community. But as it stands, federal government spending on Second Chance Act programs amounts to less than $100 a year for each newly released prisoner — far less than the programs need and deserve.
A new study from the National Reentry Resource Center, created under the Second Chance Act, shows that recidivism rates can be significantly reduced when states commit to jailing only people who present a risk to public safety and to helping newly released prisoners find drug treatment, psychiatric counseling and the other services they need for a successful transition to the world beyond bars.
The report compared the three-year recidivism rates for people released in 2007 to those of people released in 2010 for eight states — Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Wisconsin — and found that the percentage declines in recidivism rates ranged from 5.8 percent in Colorado to 19.3 percent in North Carolina.
North Carolina, for example, learned that probation revocations accounted for half of its prison admissions and that three-quarters of those sent to prison based on such revocations had not committed new offenses. The State Legislature enacted sweeping reforms. It intensified community supervision, and it gave probation officers better training and allowed them to use other sanctions for people who violated the rules, like punishing them with two or three days in the local jail instead of sending them back to prison for lengthy stays.
The state also established local re-entry councils that direct newly released inmates to social services to help them readjust to the community. The new measures drove down recidivism, allowing North Carolina to close nine correctional facilities, hire more probation officers and lend more support to drug treatment and other transitional programs.
The Second Chance Act has a crucial role to play by providing seed money for new reforms and helping to distinguish what works from what does not. Given the scope of the task at hand — and the fact that 700,000 people will be released from prison this year — the federal government should be spending far more than the $67.7 million that went for this purpose in the 2014 fiscal year. A higher level of expenditure would more than pay for itself in terms of lower corrections costs.

1 comment:

Chuck Krutsinger said...

This is a great example of wisely spending tax resources. Colorado should consider North Carolina's lead. Nearly 40% of Colorado prison admissions are for technical (non-criminal) parole/probation violations. Other sanctions should be available that will cost the taxpayers less and yet still provide the behavior incentives needed.

Another second chance that should be considered is making a law that makes it easier for people who have finished serving their time to get a job. With the internet and today's computer background checks, the mistakes of the past follow a person forever and so many companies won't hire someone with a past felony. The notion of having "paid for your crime" is dead. While it makes sense that a sex offender shouldn't work in a daycare or elementary school, why should they be denied a chance to work with computers or in a warehouse or in construction? Someone with fraud convictions should probably not be a bookkeeper, but why couldn't they serve food or work in sales? Colorado has a law that prohibits them from discriminating based on past convictions that have no relevance to the job being considered. However, public companies do it all the time.