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.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Prison Break (Colorado Springs Independent)

We need to hear more success stories like this one. It was a long time coming, but it just goes to show that we don't need to give up on people when they make mistakes. People need options in order to be successful.

One month ago, Ernie Medina stepped from his navy blue pickup, slipped and fell on the ice near his apartment complex just south of downtown Colorado Springs.....Medina's arm was X-rayed for a possible broken bone that could have seriously hampered his work and his life. But the X-rays were clear.

Medina turned down a prescription for the painkiller Vicodin. Even the tiniest trace of the drug could rouse the addictions that brought him a total of eight years behind bars, thousands of dollars in court fees and countless urine analysis tests... By many standards, Medina has broken out of the prison-life cycle...."You can't say that we are success stories until we die," he warns. "Any one of us, especially on an addiction, is subject to falling off the path. ... That is a possibility for me until the day I die."..

Felons like Medina are regularly turned down for jobs. In Colorado, private employers can refuse anyone with a felony conviction. Public employers also can ask about criminal background information, but cannot require details of prior arrests. The state doesn't track unemployment rates of ex-felons.

"We are creating a growing segment of the population that is unemployable," says Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. "Not just unemployed, but unemployable."

Read the Article here

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