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, January 31, 2007

Step In The Right Direction -- New Treatment Program

It certainly doesn't fix everything, but it is a step in the right direction. Now we just need small programs that will address more populations.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson kicked off a new program this morning that he hopes will help homeless veterans get off drugs and back to society. Nicholson, joined with the National Drug Control Policy Director John Walters and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, cut the ribbon of the new center at 1155 Cherokee St. The 14-bed facility in the Comprehensive Addiction Rehabilitation Evaluation and Services building will allow veterans to stay up to six months and learn to beat their drug addiction.

Rocky Article

Record Sealing Bill -- February 7, 1:300 Rm 0112

Record Sealing Bill Coming Before House Judicial Committee

Wednesday Febuary 7 House Judiciary Room 0122 at 1:30

Contact the Judiciary Committee

In Colorado, state law currently does not allow an adult to seal a criminal record.
This ensures that people convicted of a crime, no matter how long ago and no matter
how successful they are in life, will forever be stigmatized and possibly discriminated
against in housing and employment due to their criminal record.

Representative Mike Cerbo (D-Denver) introduced HB 07-1107 on January 15th that
would allow people to petition the court to seal a criminal record after 10 years following
the completion of a sentence or release from supervision. This bill is coming before the
House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday February 7 at 1:30.

In an effort to show support for this legislation please call the committee members and
attend the committee hearing so that they realize how serious this issue is.
This legislation will survive only if this committee votes for it. If you cannot attend the hearing,
please call your House Representative and ask them to support this legislation
(don’t know your Representative – go to www.votesmart.org) .

Rep. Morgan Carroll

Arapahoe / Democrat Attorney/Small Business owner
Cap: 303-866-2942
E-mail: morgancarroll@webaccess.net

Rep. Terrance Carroll Chair of the Judiciary Committee
Denver / Democrat/ Attorney
Cap: 303-866-2909
E-mail: terrance.carroll.house@state.co.u

Rep. Mike Cerbo (Sponsor)
Denver / Democrat/ Attorney
Cap: 303-866-2911
E-mail: mpcerbo@yahoo.com

Rep. Bob Gardner
El Paso/Fremont Republican
Attorney Cap: 303-866-2191
E-mail: bob.gardner.house@state.co.us

Rep. Andrew "Andy" Kerr
Jefferson Democrat
Educator Cap: 303-866-2923
E-mail: akerrhd26@earthlink.net

Rep. Steve King
Delta/Mesa Republican
Cap: 303-866-3068
E-mail: steve.king.house@state.co.us

Rep. Rosemary Marshall
Denver Public Policy Democrat
Cap: 303-866-2959
E-mail: rosemary.marshall.house@state.co.us

Rep. Ellen Roberts
Archuleta/La Plata/Montezuma/San Juan
Attorney Cap: 303-866-2914
E-mail: ellen.roberts.house@state.co.us

Rep. Debbie Stafford
Arapahoe/Elbert Republican
Ordained Minister/Counselor/Auctioneer
Cap: 303-866-2944
E-mail: debbie.stafford.house@state.co.us

Rep. Amy Stephens
El Paso/ Consultant /Republican
Cap: 303-866-2924
E-mail: amy.stephens.house@state.co.us

Rep. Claire Levy
Boulder/Clear Creek/Gilpin /Democrat/Attorney
Cap: 303-866-2578
E-mail: claire.levy.house@state.co.us

We need your help to move this legislation forward. If passed this legislation could be significant in the lives of so many.

To read the bill in its entirety go to

What's Going On at CSP?

Visiting Suspended at CSP

24 January 2007

The offender visiting program has been suspended INDEFINATELY for Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) starting on Friday, January 26, 2007, due to facility operational/security functions.

Denver Post Letters to the Editor

State prison system bursting at the seams
"Legal limit" and "Crammed state jails will 'pop,"' Jan. 28 and 29 news stories.

Colorado's Department of Corrections has a 49.2 percent rate of recidivism, according to The Post. A nearly 50 percent rate of failure is 100 percent unacceptable.

The DOC actively discourages rehabilitation and courts recidivism by sending inmates who have behaved well and followed the rules to private prisons in places like Oklahoma. Such moves separate prisoners from both their families and the few programs Colorado does provide for rehabilitation, like the helper dog training program that has had remarkable success in teaching prisoners the pro-social lessons they need to stay out of prison in the future....

Ann Aber, Boulder

....We are sending prisoners to Oklahoma's private prison industry complex because "at this point we don't have any option"? Private prisons in Oklahoma are willing to take Colorado's inmates for $54 a day, but only the best-behaved. The others stay in Colorado. We are paying $19,710 per person, which, at 720 inmates, equals $14.1 million and some change. And this is our only option?

In addition, only the best-behaved prisoners are sent. We are shipping out those who are doing their time in the manner we would hope. We are punishing them for conforming to the rules we have placed on them.

More money for Oklahoma's private prison industry complex and less promise and hope for Colorado; this cannot be the promise for Colorado the governor is envisioning.

G.L. Tyler, Denver

Read the Letters here...

"The Parole System is Broken"

Yesterday DOC presented at the House and Senate Judiciary Committee. Ari Zavaras, the new Executive Director of DOC, told the committee members that they needed money restored to programs in order to reduce recidivism.

By the numbers:

$41 million: Estimated cost savings to the Department of Corrections if recidivism can be reduced by 1 percent.

2,173: Number of new prison beds state will need in six years if prison population trends continue.

Source: Prison director Ari Zavaras in testimony Tuesday to the House and Senate Judiciary committees.

Can we quote you on that?

"I kiddingly refer to myself

as part of Gov. Ritter's

recycling effort."

- Prison director Ari Zavaras, introducing himself to lawmakers Tuesday. He his returning to the Department of Corrections for his second tour of duty as executive director.

State lawmakers were skeptical, saying the parole system needs to be fixed first or eliminated. They said a large number of people now in prison are avoiding parole because there are no incentives to get out of prison early and avoid the intense supervision.

"It seems apparent that the parole system is broken," said Sen. Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont.

Rep. Debbie Stafford, R-Aurora, said lawmakers need to find ways to provide incentives for inmates to take the training and classes they need to return to a
productive life. Zavaras said he would welcome any program that would give him another tool to reduce repeat offenders.

AP article here

Building More Prisons -- We Just Can't Afford It

The additional money needed to build a second state penitentiary in Canon City is creating a bit of a problem among state budget writers.

While lawmakers acknowledge that they need to come up with $25 million to get the planned 948-bed Colorado State Penitentiary II built, they're not sure from where the money should come.

The Legislature's Capital Development Committee is balking at having to use its limited funds - approximately half of the $50 million it expected to receive this year - to take care of the problem.

Pueblo Chieftain

Renfrow To Be Investigated

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is taking over the probe of a retired state prison official who stands to be paid $1 million for helping a private prison company win a state bid.

Nolin Renfrow, former state prisons director, openly became a consultant to the Geo Group and helped it win a $14 million- per-year deal to house 1,500 inmates in a private prison proposed in Ault.

Read the Article

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Crammed Jails and Prisons will "Pop"

Ari Zavaras, the new man in charge of Colorado's Department of Corrections, has inherited a prison system that is like a balloon ready to pop.

The problem, corrections officials say, is Colorado has doubled its prison population in the past 10 years, slashed programs designed to rehabilitate inmates and slowed construction of new prisons.

Corrections officers say they feel a sense of unease because fewer people patrol the state's prisons. About 200 corrections- officer positions were eliminated during a statewide fiscal crisis that began in 2001, and only 62 of those have been restored. That leaves officers with less time to glean the kind of intelligence from inmates that can avert violent uprisings.

"I would contend that every prison in the state has the potential for a riot situation - every one of them," said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, whose district includes many southern Colorado prisons....

The bad news: There's not enough room. The state is trying to manage its prisons by double-bunking prisoners and sending some offenders out of state. Over the next five years, though, the Department of Corrections says it needs $806 million for prison construction projects alone. By 2011, the department projects that 29,000 people will be behind bars.

Zavaras said his first priority is to keep the public safe. Secondly, he believes the way to get more bang for the taxpayers' buck is to change the behavior of prisoners, most of whom are scheduled to return, eventually, to the streets.

"We are going to have a heavy focus and a heavy emphasis on what we can do to slow down growth in the department," said Zavaras, who served as director of the Department of Corrections from 1993 to 1998 and as Denver's police chief before then.

Read the Post article

Statement From Ari Zavaras - Executive Director DOC

Governor Ritter's first State of the State highlighted the role of the
Department for all Coloradans--to preserve the public safety. The Governor has
repeatedly stressed since his address, we must also reduce recidivism. The Governor
has issued a challenge and I am honored and excited to take on that charge;
reducing recidivism is a Win-Win for Colorado taxpayers:

>From a public safety standpoint, reducing recidivism equals fewer victims of

>From a budgetary standpoint, reducing recidivism eases the burden to fund the
prison system and one day allows for greater funding for the future of this
state educating our children.

I look forward to working with the diverse groups
within and associated with the criminal justice system to find common goals
and solutions to issues and concerns.

Monday, January 29, 2007

How Far Will They Go...

In California it is illegal to transfer prisoners out of state unless they volunteer. Recently, California had to stop a transfer to Indiana because they couldn't get anyone to go.

The answer?

Why, marketing, of course. A film is being screened that actually goes so far as to have people who were transferred to a private prison in Tennessee launch a marketing campaign. Room With A View!! ESPN!! Tasty Meals!! Ping Pong!! Should we let them talk to the boys that just got transferred to Oklahoma?
Read the article here

Bronco's Step Up to the Plate

Rev. Kelly is going to get some much needed financial assitstance. The Denver Broncos announced today they will contribute $50,000, matched by $50,000 from the Morton Publishing Company, to be paid over five years to the Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives program to assist that organization in working with at-risk youth in the metro area.

Read the article here

CCJRC Pushing the Agenda


Last Friday, CCJRC participated in a press conference at the Capitol called “The Jails are Full—Now What?” This coming together of community leaders, criminal justice professionals, and elected officials shows the consensus that is building to address the crisis in corrections and actually do something to stop runaway growth in the prison population and prison budget. Nearly 100 people attended and we thank you!

Other speakers included: Mary Ellen Johnson (Pendulum Foundation), Sheriff Terry Maketa (El Paso County Sheriff), Maureen Cain (Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association), Mike Krause (Independence Institute), Jeanette Holtham (Youth Transformation Center), George DelGrosso (Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council), Representatives Buffy McFayden (D-Pueblo), Mike Merrifield (D-Colorado Springs), Cheri Jahn (D-Jefferson), Terrance Carroll (D-Denver), and Senator Brandon Shaffer (D-Boulder). Many thanks to Mary Ellen Johnson, Jeanette Holtham and Alma Linda for organizing the press conference.

Suggestions offered included sentencing reform, parole reform, expanding restorative justice, and expanding funding for substance abuse/mental health treatment, and re-entry services for people leaving jail and prison. If you haven’t seen the article from the Rocky Mountain News, click here….

Prior to that press conference, CCJRC delivered a letter to Governor Ritter outlining specific policy recommendations that would help to slow or stop the growth of the prison population in Colorado.

CCJRC is very encouraged by Governor Ritter’s prioritization of reducing the prison population and reducing recidivism and the high revocation rates. Recently, CCJRC met with Senators Gordon (majority leader) and Shaffer (judiciary committee chair), Pete Weir (Head of Public Safety) and Steffanie Villafuerte (Governor's Deputy Chief of Staff). We were advised at this meeting that the Governor is serious about wanting to run legislation this session. We appreciate his soliciting ideas from a wide range of people, including CCJRC. CCJRC’s suggestions were:

SUGGESTION 1: Reduce revocation rates for people on probation, parole, and community corrections.

SUGGESTION 2: Parole more people prior to their mandatory release date.

SUGGESTION 3: Revise the current model of mandatory parole.

SUGGESTION 4: Lower the crime classification for use/possession of drugs to a misdemeanor.

SUGGESTION 5: Increase funding for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

SUGGESTION 6: Repeal the mandatory, consecutive sentence for “escape” when the factual basis is other than an escape from a prison, jail or other locked facility.

SUGGESTION 7: Expand eligibility for earned time to people in prison following a parole revocation, people on re-parole, and people on parole for a violent offense.

SUGGESTION 8: Conduct additional research into the causes behind the disproportionate increase in the growth rate of the women’s prison population and the overrepresentation of people of color in the criminal justice system.

To read the full text of CCJRC’s recommendations, click here…..
Cover Letter Letter to the Governor

Shipping Them Away From Home

A crack team of correctional officers, dressed in black and armed with Glock handguns and assault rifles, stood ringing a prisoner-transport plane on a Pueblo Memorial Airport runway.

Handcuffed, shackled and chained at the waist, the inmates boarded a Champion Air passenger plane. They were heading for a privately run prison in Sayre, Okla., North Fork Correctional Facility.

"Welcome to Con Air 2007," an employee of the contractor transporting the prisoners joked after inmates boarded the plane.

Colorado convicts are being flown by the hundreds to Oklahoma to serve their time far from their families here.

The Sayre prison, which can hold 1,440 inmates, will have 720 Colorado prisoners when a third transport arrives within a few months.

"At this point, we don't have an option," said Gary Golder, director of prisons for the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Colorado's prisons are filled to capacity, with the inmate population growing by 100 every month.

Checking in for $54 a day

Operators of Sayre's prison are willing to take Colorado's inmates for $54 a day, but only the best-behaved and healthiest offenders who don't require costly medical care. Others stay in Colorado.

Prisoners shipped far away from loved ones say they're being punished for good behavior. There is some truth to that complaint, acknowledged DOC officials, who don't like sending offenders out of state.

"We're not trying to penalize them," Golder said.
The entire Denver Post article

Are Prisons Driving People Mad?

From the February 5 Time Magazine

There's no such thing as a good day for a prisoner at the highest level of security within the Ohio State Penitentiary, a 504-bed supermax prison in Youngstown, Ohio. Every inmate lives alone in a 7-ft. by 14-ft. cell that resembles nothing so much as a large, concrete closet, equipped with a sink, a toilet, a desk and a molded stool and sleep platform covered by a thin mattress. The solid metal door is outfitted with strips around the sides and bottom, muffling conversation with inmates in adjacent cells. Three times a day, a tray of food is delivered and is eaten alone. The prisoner may spend 23 hours a day in lockdown, emerging to exercise once a day. The lights in the cell never go off, although they may be dimmed a bit at night.

Read the whole article here

Thanks to PD Stuff for posting this...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

My Son Moved to Oklahoma

reprinted from the Denver Post Letters to the Editor

Importance of visits for inmate rehabilitation

In December, I found out my son, a Colorado inmate since 2000, was moved to Oklahoma in a plan to help our financially strapped prison system. We had no prior notice. It doesn't seem possible that a problem-free inmate like my son could be moved, especially since he's been getting visits from friends and family every other weekend, but now it's a reality for us: 18-hour drive, hotel room, three-day weekend, one-day visit.

Statistics show 90 percent of all inmates in Colorado never get a visit, ever. Statistics also show a connection to family and friends is one of the most important factors in keeping released prisoners from reoffending. Released prisoners can become productive members of society, or they can reoffend and be a drain on society's pocketbook. The problem with our system is we take people who commit crimes, and instead of meting out the punishment they've earned, or even trying to rehabilitate them, we add a bit of bile, creating bitter people who can't function in society and end up back on the taxpayer's dole, which is running dry.

My son has a chance to be rehabilitated, and yet if our system insists on treating him like he's less than human, he may just act that way.

Tracy Masuga, Aurora

Confronting Confinement

Confronting Confinement is a report released last year from the Commission on Safety and Abuse in Amerca's prisons that examines violence and abuse in America's prisons and jails.

.....we speak in a single voice about the problems, our nation's ability to overcome them, and the risks for all of us if we fail to act. . . . What happens inside jails and prisons does not stay inside jails and prisons. We must create safe and productive conditions of confinement not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it influences the safety, health, and prosperity of us all.”

The Commission examined dangerous conditions of confinement – violence, poor medical and mental health care, and inappropriate segregation — that can also endanger the public; the challenges facing labor and management; weak oversight of correctional facilities; and serious flaws in available data about violence and abuse in prisons and jails. The Commission's findings and a set of 30 practical recommendations for operating correctional facilities that reflect America's values and serve our best interests are captured in the report, Confronting Confinement.

Meth in New Mexico -- New Approach for Education

Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico is creating a statewide education program to address methamphetamine abuse among high school students.

The program will include a methamphetamine prevention campaign designed by and for youth, which will be broadcast on television and radio stations throughout New Mexico. "We know from experience that young people ignore overly simplistic messages about the risks of drug use," said Reena Szczepanski, director of DPA New Mexico. "The strength of this campaign will be its focus on credible, science-based information rather than ineffective scare tactics."
Read the post here

Solving California's Prison Crisis

California's prison crisis is monstrous. It's important to follow because Colorado's crisis mirrors California's on a smaller scale. The effects on the state are the same. Fiscal disaster and an approach that does not fundamentally create long term public safety.

A report was issued by the The Little Hoover Commission, which is a California state oversight agency that was created in 1962. The Commission's mission is to investigate state government operations and -- through reports, recommendations and legislative proposals -- promote efficiency, economy and improved service.

By statute, the Commission is a balanced bipartisan board composed of five citizen members appointed by the Governor, four citizen members appointed by the Legislature, two Senators and two Assembly members.

The full Commission selects study topics that come to its attention from citizens, legislators and other sources. In addition, it has a statutory obligation to review and make recommendations on proposed government reorganization plans.

They released their report on "Solving California's Prison Crisis: Time is Running Out"

(thank you to Corrections Sentencing for posting this!!!)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Wrongful Riot Conviction Reversed

Mark Garcia's overturned conviction against CCA was upheld and his earned time was restored. There is still a major lawsuit on the behalf of the prisoners pending.

The Circle Game

One of my favorite writers is Alan Prendergast from the Westword, read this compelling post from his blog, and if you have the time to look through his ongoing series on prisons, it's really wonderful. The link to those is posted on the left panel under "Our favorite links". Thanks Alan.


Prison Reform on the Radar Screen (Press Conference Report)

Representative Terrence Carroll, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee spoke to reporters after our press conference yesterday.

"We will make a significant attempt at some kind of sentencing reform," Rep. Terrance Carroll D-Denver, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Friday. He said his committee would be looking at a recent report from the Colorado Lawyers Committee that called for creation of a sentencing reform commission to propose changes.

Carroll said the state's new Democratic governor, Bill Ritter, is interested. Evan Dreyer, the governor's spokesman, said Ritter, a longtime prosecutor, "is interested in taking a closer look at many aspects of the criminal justice system," with emphasis on reducing recidivism....

....According to Christie Donner, director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, the reasons for the rise in inmate population include:

Many prisoners serving longer sentences.

Prisoners not being released early on parole.

Prisoners returning to prison on parole violations and on new charges .

Ritter has said reducing recidivism is a primary goal for his administration, to both reduce new crimes and prison costs.

Carroll called state sentencing laws "byzantine" because they are so complex. Lawyers and judges often debate in court how indecipherable laws interact to mandate a particular sentence, said Maureen Cain of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.

Full Article here

For Former Foster Care Youths, Help to Make It on Own

Thousands of children end up in foster care each year, and it happens for a variety of reasons. Poverty, addiction, and the incarceration of a parent can often end with families being destroyed and children being bounced around from home to home until they are legally of age to leave the system. Without external supports and little sense of self, what happens to them?

Read the NY Times article here

The Cost of Poverty

By ignoring the poor and avoiding poverty reducing strategies, we have created a price tag that will carve itself into the budgets, hearts and social fabric across the country. Children who grow up in extreme poverty, don't often have an opportunity to learn the skills they need to know in order to be successful in today's fast-paced society. Combine the monstrous rates of incarceration for the poor, medical costs and the cost to neighborhoods and individuals and you have got yourself a $500 billion dollar a year ticket that does nothing to reinvest itself in people it's taking care of.

Read the NY Times Op-Ed here

Friday, January 26, 2007

Department of Corrections Budget Brief

Why yes, it is supposed to snow again. Oh boy!! It's always a good time for a little light reading, so I have provided the link to the budget briefing that we received at the JBC meeting earlier this month. So, go get yourself some hot chocolate and enjoy....it does come with the disclaimer that it is subject to change.

Jails Are Full! Now What?

It was a great rally, we had nearly 100 people-plus the press-crammed into the media room at the capitol. Very little air, a room full of emotion, and a sense of hope. There does seem to be a change on the horizon. And a welcome change it is.

The speakers focused on solutions and were well received by the audience. We reached across the political spectrum today to deliver a message and it was wonderful to have so many allies and friends in the audience standing with us. We are deeply grateful for your support and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone involved.

I have reprinted the article from Channel 13 news here.

Group Hopes To Change Criminal Justice Problems
"Jails Are Full-- What Now?" Rally In Denver

Posted: 7:44 PM, Jan. 26, 2007

By Joe Dominguez

The search is on for solutions to jail and prison problems throughout the state. A large coalition of victim advocates, criminal justice system leaders and elected officials has formed with the hope that their effort can help the failing jail system marred by high costs and too many inmates.

"There's no coincidence that this is the 4th greatest spending item for Colorado and we are the 4th fastest growing prison population per capita in the US," says State Representative Buffie McFadyen, who was there for the "Jails Are Full-What Now?" press conference on Friday. "I am ashamed."

The swell of inmates into Colorado prisons is creating a ripple effect that even recent inmates can recognize. Dan Markin has seen the worst that can happen when prisons are not equipped with enough guards to handle the volume.

"They brought the Washington inmates down in 1994 and we told them don't do that: you don't have the support staff, guards, [or] infrastructure to do it," he says. "They didn't listen."

All those concerns surfaced in the 2004 riot at the Crowley County Correctional Facility. Markin was incarcerated there during the uprising and he says safety continued to be a concern after order was restored and out-of-state inmates were returned back to the state they committed their crimes.

Riots are not they only concern though. At the county level, mandatory sentencing is partly to blame for a change in policy making it easier for some offenders to get out of jail sooner in El Paso County. The moratorium on locking up non-violent misdemeanor offenses has been in place since the end of August 2006. It hasn't kept the county from seeing a record number offenders spending time in the Criminal Justice Center. As of the end of the week, only a few dozen spaces were available for male offenders and half a dozen beds open for women. It's the highest ‘no-vacancy' rate El Paso County has ever seen.

"Right now the system is more geared toward failure," says Sheriff Terry Maketa. "When we fail (when government fails, when law enforcement, corrections fail) the citizens are the ones who suffer."

Prisoners say they're being cheated by the system as well. Years ago procedures were in place to help them succeed once they are released. Without those programs, Markin says he saw many released convicts make their way back to Crowley county over the years, which adds to the burden on the criminal justice system.

"Now the [Department of Corrections] just dumps you back into the world; they say ‘here's your release date see you!" Markin says. He adds that the high number of reoffenders creates a bias in the community when it comes to hiring ex-cons. He believes little trust exists and opportunities for released prisoners to get out of the reoffending cycle have diminished over the last few years.

Another issue to surface in Friday's press conference is being addressed through House Bill 1129. Sponsored by Manitou Springs Democrat Mike Merrifield, the measure hopes to keep teens from falling into the criminal justice system by offering a better more positive treatment plan for offenders. Merrifield calls the restorative justice program an ounce of prevention for a pound of cure.

"If we don't use these ounces of investment the whole system is going to sink under the weight of its own burden," says Merrifield.

Governor Bill Ritter's inclusion of the criminal justice system problems, specifically the recidivism issue, in his State of the State give the "Jails Are Full-What Now?" group hope that a plan will be in place soon to control these issues.

The group consists of many different organizations including the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, Colorado CURE, The Pendulum Foundation and the Youth Transformation Center just to name a few. Even they admit with so many groups under one umbrella they won't agree on all solutions but say the time for being mindlessly tough on crime is over. Christie Donner from the Justice Reform Coalition says that means less convicts returned to prison for technical violations filling up much needed space. State Representative Cheri Jahn says she'll work on setting up a Juvenile Clemency Board, which got a well-received reception from the pro-reform crowd. Bottom line though-- if Colorado continues to spend what it has recently on prisons and the criminal justice system you can expect the state to fork over one billion dollars in the name of locking up criminals by the year 2012.

Closing the Revolving Door (Schools or Prisons...You Get What You Pay For)

...the country has created a growing felon caste, now more than 16 million strong, of felons and ex-felons, who are often driven back to prison by policies that make it impossible for them to find jobs, housing or education.

Congress could begin to address this problem by passing the Second Chance Act, which would offer support services for people who are leaving prison. But it would take more than one new law to undo 30 years of damage:
New York Times Op-Ed

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Ault, Economic Development and Private Prisons

One of Colorado's proposed new private prisons is slated to be built in Ault, Colorado. This prison would double the population of the town. The company that won the contract (GEO) is the same one that was recently underfire (and got fired) for not fulfilling their obligation in Pueblo. They are apparently pushing propaganda now to buffalo the citizens of this small rural town.

In July, a flyer was mailed to Ault residents titled “The Prison Facts.” It was circulated by the GEO Group and endorsed by many of the town’s leadership, who were listed at the end of the flyer with their contact information. It lists the many economic benefits a prison would bring to Ault, including jobs for 300-350 people. The flyer admits that some administrators and senior staff will come from elsewhere in the country, but tries hard to imply that other jobs would come from Ault, noting “Ault is rural, but has over 400,000 people in a 40 mile radius. This is where GEO hopes to hire most of their employees.” That’s true of course, but that radius includes Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley; Ault’s growth management area extends only about a half mile from the center of town....

.....When researching the prison, Tidwell, one of the opponents who formed Citizens Against the Ault Prison, discovered a Town Board resolution passed and signed in May by former Mayor James Fladung stating the town would proceed with a contract with GEO, which was attached as an exhibit. The 13-page contract was complete except for signatures and an agreement on the amount of the payment in lieu of taxes. Convinced the prison was being negotiated without any public input, Tidwell and others successfully petitioned for an ordinance that requires a vote of the residents before a prison is built.
GEO did not return phone calls regarding this article.

Read the Ft. Collins Weekly article here

ACLU Has Joined Suit Against Corrections Corporation of America

Hundreds of immigration detainees in an Otay Mesa, California facility are crammed three to a cell. The cells are 12 X 6 and some have been waiting months or even years to have their cases resolved. The facility is run by Corrections Corporation of America and is simply indicative of what they are willing to do to make a profit from the incarceration of human beings. READ MORE

Supreme Court Overrules Limits on Prisoner Litigation

The American Civil Liberties Union today welcomed a unanimous Supreme Court decision striking down a series of barriers to prisoner litigation imposed by the Sixth Circuit. Today’s decision in Jones v. Bock overturned the strict requirements imposed by the Sixth Circuit in the provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) that mandates that prisoners “exhaust” administrative remedies.

The PLRA, a law passed in 1996 and claimed to be directed at frivolous lawsuits filed by prisoners, requires a prisoner to complete an internal prison grievance process before filing a lawsuit in federal court.
The Jones v. Bock decision is online at:

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Citizen Oversight Board to meet

By Rocky Mountain News

January 24, 2007

The Citizen Oversight Board, a part of Denver’s civilian oversight of law enforcement, will hold a televised public meeting tomorrow evening from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Hiawatha Davis Recreation Center, 3334 Holly St.

District 2 police Commander Rhonda Jones and her command staff will attend, along with Director of Corrections Bill Lovingier and Major Kielar of the Denver Sheriff Department.

Read More

Senate Legislators Aim For Health Care

The Republicans bristled at the thought of tobacco settlement money being pulled out of the transportation budget so that it could be allocated for health issues.

Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, D-Golden, and House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder, have introduced legislation to divert $34 million from tobacco settlement monies to the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and other programs that have been cut in tight budget years.

Republicans are bristling at the proposal, which would send half of the money to CU and the rest to programs that provide things like rural health care, mental health and drug and alcohol counseling for inmates, immunization programs and state employee health benefits.

"This takes money straight out of the transportation budget and converts it to mental health counseling for inmates," said Senate Minority Leader Andy McElhany, R-Colorado Springs.

Fitz-Gerald, however, said the money does not come from transportation, but the general fund. While reducing the general fund overall can affect highway spending, she said, the tobacco money was always intended for health care. It was diverted into the general fund during the recession in 2003 to avoid exacerbating already painful budget cuts.

"We are taking it back, saying these are supposed to be health dollars," said Fitz-Gerald, noting that the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center ranks at the bottom nationally for funding of public medical schools.

Can you imagine? Putting health, education and counseling before (gasp) transportation?

Texas Prison Alternatives

I found this post on Grits for Breakfast this morning, and thought that Texas was really starting to get creative in putting together a holistic approach to working with their recidivism and crime rate problem.

Read here.

Only One Out Of 23 Prisons Followed the Law (Or, why I love audits.)

In 2002, the legislature passed a law requiring the Department of Corrections to help soon-to-be-released people in applying for Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid. The Legislative Audit Committee requested an audit to see how that program was working out.

Not very well, apparently.

Only one out of all 23 state and private prisons could prove that they started to help those getting ready to get out. Gary Golder, state director of prisons, blamed budget cuts for lack of compliance. According to the Department of Corrections over 5 thousand of the the people housed in their care had moderate to severe medical and mental-health conditions who could possible qualify for support upon release.

People who had to wait until they were released to apply for these programs have to wait months for those programs to kick in and few have the capacity to take care of themselves until help is approved. By then it is usually too late.

To deal with those budget cuts, DOC cut the amount of medications that people are given upon release. People with medical conditions are only given enough medication to last for ten days. Those who have severe mental health conditions are only given enough to last for 30 days. The lack of aftercare and accountability is just as much a public safety issue as it is a moral issue.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

No Learning Curve Here

Bill Ritter has brought in those people who have been here before. Ari Zavaras and Brian Burnett both know where the copy machine is at DOC headquarters.

In 2001, Gov. Bill Owens appointed Brian Burnett who was born and raised in Colorado Springs, to serve as acting director of the Colorado Department of Corrections replacing John Suthers who was appointed by President Bush to serve as U.S. Attorney for Colorado.

Brian Burnett had been serving as the deputy director of the Department of Corrections in 1999. Prior to 1999, Burnett served as director of finance and general administration for DOC from 1996 to 1999. During much of that same period, Burnett owned and operated his own coffee company, Black Bear Coffee, from 1997 to 1999.

Correct measures

In a first step toward reforming the state's costly, crowded prison system, Gov. Bill Ritter on Monday announced plans to loan a University of Colorado vice chancellor to the Department of Corrections.

Brian Burnett will hold the dual titles of DOC deputy director and vice chancellor for administration and finance at CU-Colorado Springs.

One of Burnett's initial objectives will be to identify funding for anti-recidivism programs. Ritter said reducing the number of repeat offenders and those returning to state prison will save taxpayers money in the long run and is one of his top goals.

"Brian possesses a unique knowledge of both the corrections budget and CU's finances," Ritter said. "By putting him to work in both arenas, we can benefit both agencies and the people of Colorado. This is a perfect example of how we intend to approach state government's diverse needs: through innovation and cooperation."

State In Fiscal Prison With Jails

Denver Daily News Op-Ed

Monday, January 22, 2007

Senate Committee Hearings

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Briefing by the Department of Corrections

Hard Hit- The Growth Of The Imprisonment of Women

The State Of Colorado and How Many Women We Imprison

We know that the women's incarceration rate is outpacing the mens. Colorado now ranks 10th in the nation on every scale of female incarceration, including population growth. Read this fascinating study that tries to uncover the trends of why we are putting our women in cages.

Read the Report

A new report commissioned by the Institute on Women & Criminal Justice finds that female imprisonment in the U.S. has skyrocketed 757 percent since 1977. Women are the fastest-growing segment of the prison population, surpassing male prison population growth in all 50 states. These trends have profound consequences for communities, families and the women themselves. The report finds that the rise in the female prison population has been punctuated by growth spikes that reached higher, lasted longer and often began earlier than those affecting men. The pace of growth has fallen since 2000, but the rate at which women are added to prison each year remains high.

"The Punitiveness Report-HARD HIT: The Growth in Imprisonment of Women, 1977-2004" takes an in-depth look at female prison population growth patterns and regional trends, and it provides the first state-by-state analysis of female imprisonment from 1977 to 2004, with findings from all 50 states. The report was authored by Dr. Natasha Frost, Assistant Professor at Northeastern University, and Judith Greene and Kevin Pranis of Justice Strategies.

***************Press Conference*******************

1:00 P.M. -- 2:00 P.M.

Jails Are Full!! Now What?

Media Room Third Floor

We would love to add you name to our list of Co- Sponsors
and to have you stand with us while we address the media or
feel free to attend this important press conference.

Colorado has run out of prison space. Our current prison policies have broken the bank.
We cannot build ourselves out of this prison crisis.
We will decrease public safety by continuing to warehouse people.

Our prison train wreck has arrived....Join us for an important press conference


State Representative Morgan Carroll
State Representative Buffie McFadyen
Representative Mike Merrifield

State Representative, Cheri Jahn

Maureen Cain - Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
Christie Donner, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa

Mike Krause, Independence Institute

Dr. Joanne Glittenberg, VIP Coalition
George DelGrosso, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare
Chief Probation Officer Jack Ruszczyk
Mary Ellen Johnson, Pendulum Foundation
Jeannette Holtham, Youth Transformation Center
Tim Dore, Colorado Catholic Conference

Following the speakers who are addressing the problem, we will introduce each attending organization and invite the press to speak with you individually about YOUR ideas for a solution. We encourage you to provide press materials from your organization at the press conference. Please pass this on to other and invite them to be part of this important press conference.

Please RSVP to maryellen@pendulumfoundation.com or call Mary Ellen at 720.314.1402.

Current Co-Sponsors

The Pendulum Foundation

Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition

Youth Transformation Center
UCCS Beth-el College of Nursing

VIP (Violence Intervention and Prevention) Center

Colorado Progressive Coalition

Relevant Word Ministries

Peace Jam International

Rev. Patrick L Demmer & Black Ministerial Alliance
Unity Church of Denver
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

Denver Area Race and Reconciliation Team
Earthwise Productions/Public Access Television 57,58,59

Charity's House Ministry
Redeemed Ones Outreach Ministries (aka Jail and Prison Ministry)
Colorado ACORN
Private Corrections Institute

Mercy Kingdom Outreach

Native American Prisoners Support Group

National Faith-Based Coalition Disabled Veterans Enterprises
Independent Agency

Lea Foundation
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Road Called Strate
Veterans Chamber of Commerce
Safer Alternatives for Enjoyable Recreation
Lutheran Advocacy Ministry
Center for Spirituality at Work
American Church United, Bishop Acen L. Phillips

The Matthews Center for Excellence

Campaign for a Cabinet Level Department of Peace

Aetheling International Consultants

The Council

Progress NOW Action
Sensible Colorado

Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence(SPAN)
Gonzo Foundation, Anita Thompson

Colorado Association of Alcohol & Drug Service Providers
Agape Inmate Ministries
Progress Now
November Coalition


Rep. Nancy Todd

Rep. Claire Levy
Judge H.Ted Rubin (Ret.)
Richard Skorman
Pete Lee

Joshua Holle
Sister Elizabeth Bornhoft

Carol Johan

Melva Selectman

John P. Jones

Donna Grimes

Judith Cain

Jeff Moser

Mary and Ronald Forthofer

Linda Mitchell
Diane Inscoe

Pamela Clifton

Joanne Belknap

Bruce Thron-Weber

Mary-Ellen Pecci
Dr. Sandra Lynton

Dave Cameron
Rebecca Baggett

Mary Phillips

High Court Strikes Down California's Indeterminate Sentencing

Corrections Sentencing leads us to Doug Berman's site and his take on Cunningham today

Dividing 6-3, the Supreme Court ruled on Monday that California's "determinate sentencing law" is unconstitutional because it allows judge's to find facts that lead to higher criminal sentences. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority in Cunningham v. California (05-6551). The California system, the Court said, assigns to the trial judge, not the jury, authority to find the facts that expose a convicted individual to an elevated "upper term" sentence.
"This court has repeatedly held that, under the Sixth Amendment, any fact that exposes a defendant to a greater potential sentence must be found by the jury, not a judge, and established beyond a reasonable doubt, not merely by a preponderance of the evidence," Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court.


Winning Where the War on Drugs Has Failed

The Harm Reduction Project is an endorsing organization of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition and their efforts are profiled in the following Op-Ed.

Salt Lake City’s Harm Reduction Project has been around since 1998 serving intravenous drug users, prisoners and prostitutes with nonjudgmental counseling and education aimed at keeping them as healthy as possible. But the project only recently came to wide public attention after hosting the first meth conference two years ago. The gathering brought condemnation from an Indiana congressman who took exception to lecture topics such as “We Don’t Need a War on Meth” and suggested the federally funded event was a front for drug legalization.
Denver's Drop-In Center

Op-Ed on Harm Reduction

Getting Smart On Crime

Mike published this paper two years ago and it is not only good reading, it is extremely pertinent in regards to changing sentencing laws.

As I run across reports that I believe you may be interested in I will post them here. Tomorrow we will look at women in prison.

Mike's Paper

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Budget Reality

Ritter's plan is ambitious, but the new things he wants for Colorado is going to require fixing
the old problems first.

Grand Junction Sentinel article

Can Drug Court Make A Real Difference This Time?

In order to be effective, drug court can't just be the slow road to prison. There has to be significant funding for the people who can't afford treatment. Prisons are full of poor people who couldn't access services. Whether it is treatment or child care so that they could attend the long term treatment programs that will increase the addicts likelihood of success. Having people pay for U.A. tests to see if they are using doesn't help. Try something different, have them pay for the ones that come back positive for drugs. Creativity is going to be necessary in order to achieve success. The proponents of this system have to thoughtful about all the populations that they are serving.

OP ED in the Rocky Mountain News

Without ID -- Who Can Make It?

During the DOC Briefing to the JBC last week, we were treated to the statistic that nearly 80% of people being released to Denver were being released homeless.

Laws that were changed to stop identity theft have also kept our most vulnerable without the ability to get their basic needs met, like being able to get a job. Up until a few years ago it was common practice to take your state prison identification to DMV and trade that and $4.00 to get your state identification. That's no longer the case, and without any money, I.D., or a Social Security card there isn't much room for success.

Read the Colorado Springs Gazette article here.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Rally to End the War on Iraq

Saturday, January 27, 2007 -- Rallies to end the War on Iraq and prevent
an attack on Iran -- in conjunction with rallies around the country,
including a massive national peace march in Washington D.C.

* BOULDER -- 12 Noon -- outside Boulder County Courthouse, Pearl Street
Mall and 14th St.
* LONGMONT -- 11AM -- First Congregational United Church of Christ,
1500 9th Ave. Call 303-772-3760 for more information.
* DENVER -- 12 Noon -- west steps of the Capitol in Denver.

Former Narcotics Officers Want to End Drug War

I was first introduced to LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) last year at a conference. Their message is frightening and powerful, so much so that during their presentation I didn't know whether to get sick or scream. The truth is a very powerful thing.
There is an OP-Ed embedded in this article from a former Denver police officer.

Former Narcs Say Drug War is Futile

By Radley Balko

It's understandable why when many people first see Howard Wooldridge, they might at first think he's a crank.

The slender, mustachioed man of middle-age frequently wears a cowboy hat, and has been known to get around town on a horse. He also wears a black shirt with loud, conspicuous lettering on both the front and back. You'd be forgiven to dismiss him as a religious zealot proclaiming the coming apocalypse, or a disciple of Lyndon Larouche.

But look closer. The shirt reads: "COPS SAY LEGALIZE DRUGS: ASK ME WHY."

The Price We Pay

Gang activity is increasing in Colorado, and I didn't need the recent coverage of local violence to know about it. My 16-year old daughter keeps me up-to-date. There are places she doesn't want to go because "the kids that hang out there are all involved in gangs and drugs, and that's all they want to talk about."

I believe that when we as a community stop funding the programs that give our kids something to do, someone will find something for them to do. The recruiters on the street offer them lucrative, dangerous jobs and give them a sense of belonging to something.

Putting them in jail is NOT the answer. That's just the fast track to filling up our prisons. Addressing the issues are. What's going in their lives, their families and their neighborhoods? We need to be thoughtful and not reactionary in our response. When we drop the ball, and pay more attention to funding the building of prisons then community centers, school programs and job opportunities, we will get exactly what we pay for.

Read More here

Friday, January 19, 2007

Why Would He Break Something That Works?

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has called for a severe funding cut to Proposition 36, the state's landmark, voter-approved, treatment-instead-of-jail program. The recommendation, part of the governor's budget proposal released last week, would cut $23 million from the money- and life-saving program.

**********Action Alert !! Legislative Update!!!

Legislative Update

January 19, 2007


In Colorado, state law currently does not allow an adult to seal a criminal record.
This ensures that people convicted of a crime, no matter how long ago and no matter
how successful they are in life, will forever be stigmatized and possibly discriminated
against in housing and employment due to their criminal record.

Representative Mike Cerbo (D-Denver) introduced HB 07-1107 on January 15th that
would allow people to petition the court to seal a criminal record after 10 years following
the completion of a sentence or release from supervision.

Convictions for some crimes would not be able to be sealed including:

Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses or class A or B traffic infractions,
DUI/DWAI, sexual offenses, domestic violence, offense involving a pregnant women
or convictions for crimes involve aggravating circumstances, high risk, or special offender
sentencing enhancements. If passed, this law would apply to convictions entered on or after July 1, 2007 as a matter of right and would apply to convictions entered on or after July 1, 1988
but before July 1, 2007 with consent of the prosecuting attorney.

The Colorado Criminal Defense Bar (CCDB) is looking for people
who would like to testify in support of this bill when it comes before
the House Judiciary Committee (date to be determined.)
So, if you or someone you know

" was convicted ten years ago (or more)
" has not been arrested or convicted of another crime since that conviction
" was convicted for a crime that is eligible to be sealed, including drug offenses,
other nonviolent offenses (ie: NOT convicted of any of the crimes that are not allowed to be sealed - Class 1 or 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses or class A or B traffic infractions, DUI/DWAI, sexual offenses, domestic violence, offense involving a pregnant women or convictions for crimes involve aggravating circumstances, high risk, or special offender sentencing enhancements.)
" and have faced some hardship as a result of this criminal conviction (ie: difficulties in finding employment or housing or other challenges due to the criminal record)

If you have questions or are interested in testifying, please contact Guss Guarino at the
Colorado Criminal Defense Bar gussguarino@ccdb.org or call at (303) 758-2454.
We need your help to move this legislation forward. If passed this legislation could be significant in the lives of so many.
To read the bill in its entirety go to

Pamela Clifton
Outreach Coordinator
1212 Mariposa St. #4
Denver, CO 80204
work (303) 825-0122

Shipped To Oklahoma

I received an email from a concerned parent last night

I was just informed that my son, was transferred from AVCF to Oklahoma.

As your newsletter indicated, there was no advanced notice to him or his family. He was limited in how much he could take with him.

My son made a mistake; but he has worked hard to make up for that. He was in a welding program and was almost finished with that. He was also about one week away from being reclassified to MR. (minimum restrictive)

I am wondering if you know who, at DOC, I could write or call to express my concerns about what this will do to a person who was on a positive path to eventual reintegration into society?

Just thought you should know.

Nearly 13,000 Kids Involved in Gangs Statewide

Let me continue on in my rant about not paying for education and paying for incarceration. The last few posts have been pointed to show that we know that working with kids makes a difference. Mentoring programs, after school programs and all of the things that have been cut out of our budget over the last few years to fund the prison budget brings a frightening chill even colder than the 10 degrees that it is outside right now. Being one of the leading states in putting kids in jail is not a distinction that I am particularly proud of. We can do better.

Read More

Prison Budget is Spiraling Out Of Control

Gov. Bill Ritter described prison costs as spiraling - "some would say spiraling out of control," he said in a meeting with the JBC on Tuesday. We know that they have been cutting other state budgets to cover the cost of prisons for years. It can't go on as CCJRC has been trying to point out over that same amount of time. Our last administration was disinclined to do anything about the crisis. However this governor and his staff seem to understand that defunding education and funding incarceration will give you exactly what you pay for.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Colorado Kids on the Fast Track -- To Prison

Is this another Colorado paradox?

A report from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, based in Oakland, Calif., shows Colorado with a relatively high number of African-American youth in some kind of juvenile detention facility, 1,150 of every 100,000. It's one of only 15 states where the rate is above 1,000, and the national average is 754.

But looked at another way, Colorado is just about average. African-Americans are overrepresented in the justice system, but by how much varies a great deal from state to state. Nationally, for every white youth in detention, there are 4.5 blacks. Colorado, at 4.7, is higher than 18 states and lower than 25.

The explanation? Colorado puts more white kids in custody than all but six other states and the District of Columbia; 268 per 100,000, compared with the national rate of 190.

Read More

Corrections Sentencing, also posted excellent research from the National Criminal Justice Reference Center..if you get a chance.

Mentoring Progams Work

Henry Sandoval got his report card last week. As the Kepner Middle School sixth-grader's grades went from D's and F's to B's, Katie Reilly's mood went from hopeful to determined.

"Henry's going to graduate from high school," Reilly said with the kind of grim certitude that defies failure.

Reilly, a 30-year-old lawyer, and Henry, an 11-year-old Denver Public Schools student, are a work in progress. They are the essence of the mentoring relationship, which combines friendship and empathy with expectations and tough love.

"She helps me a lot with homework, and we do some fun things," Henry said.

Mandatory Sentencing Overhaul -- Op Ed

Editorial on overhauling mandatory sentencing in the Canon City Daily Record

All crimes are not created equal, and the sentences should not be either.
With a change in political power in Congress, and a growing discomfort
among Republicans as well, change may be coming.

Congress will begin work this month, or perhaps in February, to consider
whether to change the mandatory sentencing laws that have tied the hands of
judges nationwide.
Read the rest

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

240 More People Shipped to Oklahoma

Department of Corrections Press Release

On Wednesday, January 17, 2007, Colorado Department of Corrections transferred a second group of 240 people to Sayre, Oklahoma. Colorado’s state prisons are currently filled to capacity.

The North Fork Correctional Facility is located in Sayre, Oklahoma approximately 500 miles from Colorado Springs and is a private facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)

Read it here

New Mexico is Getting On The Treatment Bandwagon

We've heard of the "Tipping Point" when it comes to a new fad. It's a little strange to actually watch it start to happen. Good for you Bill Richardson and Rep. Pearce. I'm not too keen on the registry for drug users, but I agree that meth labs in previously used homes should be disclosed.

Read the article here

Gang Problems In Denver

Rev. Leon Kelly is one of the few that work with gangs in Denver, and he needs help.

Read More..

Update on DMV Lawsuit

State motor vehicle offices on Tuesday were scheduled to begin providing a written reason for denying an application for a Colorado driver's license or identification card.

The new procedure came as the result of a judge's ruling last year on a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of homeless people who challenged the Department of Revenue's so-called two-document rule last November. Read the article here

Has The Tide Really Turned?

At the Joint Budget Committee meeting Bill Ritter actually talked about putting money into schools and our new governor said he would push to reduce prison spending, with rehabilitation and other programs focused on reducing the return rate of prison inmates.

Ritter said reducing fast-growing prison costs would give the state more money for other programs such as higher education and human services, which are vulnerable to budget cuts.

Democratic legislative leaders also have made reduction of the prison system's recidivism rate a priority this session.

You may have to pinch me soon.
Denver Post article

BTW if you have time to read today's Corrections Sentencing, they really lay out the issue well.

Ending the Prison Windfall NY Times Op Ed

Truth in censusing....

Weissman Introduces Bill to End the Death Penalty

Paul Weissman has introduced a bill to end the death penalty in Colorado and use the money that is spent annually on solving cold case homicides.

Rocky Mountain New here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Drug Tax Stamp

Okay, I didn't even think this law was still around. It was originally called the "crack tax". People who were busted with a certain quantity of drugs were being charged with tax evasion. In response, states began issuing "tax stamps" so they could collect the money up front. When and if you were arrested for possession and your illegal drugs didn't have a tax stamp when you got busted, you would be penalized for the tax amount based on the amount of drugs you had in your possession.

They didn't sell many stamps.

Apparently, this law is still alive and kicking in 23 states in the union. A judge in Tennessee finally put a stop to it in his state, calling it unconstitutional. The Department of Revenue is appealing that decision.

Read the article here..

Read the article from Time magazine here.

Supreme Court Suppresses Breath Test

The Colorado Supreme Court suppressed DUI breath test evidence.....

Read More

Built It and Can't Afford to Fill It... Fremont County

Fremont County used Certificates of Participation to build their new jail, and now can't afford to operate it. Would the money have been better spent elsewhere? Click here to read more

OP-ED New Strategy

The president’s new plan for the Iraq war stems from the lack of success in bringing security to a sizable number of Iraqis. Seeing that and recognizing the American people’s patience on that front is wearing thin, the president took a new look at how he was conducting that war. After decades of an even worse failure in the drug war, it’s time for the government to rethink that war as well.

Op-Ed in Monday's Colorado Springs Gazette

A New Vision?

At the Joint Budget Committee briefing yesterday, new Department of Corrections director Ari Zavaras was told to come back to him with a plan to reduce recidivism by 5 %, and slash the request for $700 million to build new prisons.

Mr. Zavaras flanked by DOC officials stated that we need to provide better programming, educational and vocational options to help build the skills people need in order for them to be successful upon release. Zavaras also stated that request was in line with Mr. Ritter's vision for Colorado and public safety.

We have said in the past that if you can improve the success rates on parole statewide by 100 people a month, then we would have negative prison growth.

Let's see what happens...

Read the Rocky Mountain Post article here

HB-07-1107 Sealing of Criminal Records

This Bill has been introduced by Rep. Mike Cerbo

Monday, January 15, 2007

Around Blog World

We officially launched this blog on Friday, and after a few technical glitches seem to have everything running smoothly. It was particularly exciting because nearly 600 people have stopped in to see how it all works. That's very exciting. Why? Because that's 600 people who care, who share a common belief around rallying for the rights of the imprisoned, and demanding that, as a society, we remain accountable for our treatment of those who are accused, those who have been found quilty, and those who have paid their debt and look forward to rejoining society as contributing members. We who know that there is a better way. I have always believed that information is power, and we will strive to get the truth out to you.

In the course of daily research I have run into several excellent blogs that relate to the world of criminal justice. Colorado's own Public Defender Stuff is very well-written and entertaining. The MLK piece today was especially good. Hopefully the case load for public defenders in Denver will be reduced by the advent of our new drug court.

If you have a chance to read Talk Left: The Politics of Crime, by Jeralyn Merritt another Colorado Blog, it's well-researched, thorough and covers a range of topics and does it well.

Then, of course, there is Grits for Breakfast. Based in Texas, it's great, well-paced and a joy to read. I also like the comfortable style of Corrections Sentencing.


The Madness of Meth. Treatment Does Work

The Denver Post article "Meth "Rush" reveals a strong hold.

Hearings Demanded For Swift Detainees

No three day holiday for the government. When the judge says "now", he means now.

City Resurrects Drug Court

City leaders say it's the best thing to start to reduce the jail/prison population, and it really looks great on paper. There are changes that have been made on the faceplate from the old court to the new.
The one thing that hasn't changed is the fact that there is still no money for SUBSTANCE ABUSE treatment in Colorado. Don't get me wrong, mental health funding will go a long way, but it's not the whole answer. That's why it is so difficult to create change. Where do poor addicts go when the judge gives them treatment as an sentence?

Read the article here..

Black Youths More Likely To Be Incarcerated in Colorado

A study to be released today has found that black youths in Colorado are much more likely to be incarcerated in juvenile detention facilities than the U.S. average for black youths.


Put SB 318 On Your Radar Screen

Reprint from the Colorado Justice Reporter- December 2006 edition.

In 2003, the Colorado Legislature overwhelmingly passed Senate Bill 318 by a vote of 29-6 in the Senate and 62-3 in the House. SB 318 was sponsored by Senator Ken Gordon (D-Denver) and representative Lynn Hefley (R-Colorado Springs).

SB 318 had several components, which fall into two different categories: felony/sentence reductions and increasing funding for drug treatment. However, the legislation also set a "sunset" date of 2007 if theLegislature did not actually increase funding for substance abuse treatment. Since its enactment in 2003, the Legislature has not increased the funding for treatment and therefore, if it doesn't do so in the 2007 session, the sentencing reform will be automatically repealed and go back to the law that was in effect pror to the passage of SB 318. This is something that would be a huge backslide for Colorado and we do not want to see it happen. CCJRC will work very hard during the next session to make sur ethat SB 318 isn't repealed.

Description of bill: changes use of a schedule I or II substance (currently class 5 felony) to a class 6 felony; changes simple possession of 1 gram or less of scheduled substances to class 6 felony (currently class 3-5, depending on substance); changes a second or subsequent possession offense of 1 gram or less of schedule 1 through IV controlled substances to a class 4 felony; allows offenders—even those with prior felony convictions—to be sentenced to probation for drug use or possession of 1 gram or less, upon recommendation of the district attorney.

Requires that at least $2.2 million in cost savings (resulting from reduced incarceration) be allocated to the drug offender treatment fund for community based treatment by FY 2008. Contains substantial provisions on how money will be distributed.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The State of the Judiciary

Colorado's Supreme Court is backed up as well...

The Mentally Ill - Behind Bars Op Ed

We have made a very bad practice of imprisoning the mentally ill. Bernard E. Harcourt examines this practice.

Read More

JBC Briefing Monday

Legislative Services Building, 3rd Floor
200 East 14th Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80203

January 15, 2007
Monday, January 15
1:30-5:00 Hearing for the Department of Corrections

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Meeting with the Joint House and Senate Judiciary

Briefing by the Joint Budget Committee

1:30 P.M. JBC Hearing Room, Legis. Serv., Bldg. 3rd Floor
1:30-2:30 Meeting with Governor Ritter to discuss budget priorities
2:30-5:00 Continuation of Consideration of Supplemental Requests
5:00-5:20 Meeting with Community Corrections Coalition to discuss ways to
increase number of people in community corrections and enhance success rates
PLEASE NOTE: Any Supplementals Not Completed Today Will be Considered Tomorrow