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 15, 2007

Prison Crisis Can't be Fixed With A Band-Aid

Diane Carman hits the nail on the head with this article about what has happened in Colorado to create the prison crisis that has given us the 6th fastest growing prison population in the nation.

The prison crisis is not something that calls for a bit of judicious tweaking.

It's Colorado's very own Iraq war.

It was sold to voters on flawed intelligence, distorted over the years to evoke irrational fear, exploited by politicians for their cynical self-interest and transformed into an industry that feeds on the whole unseemly, craven, warped public policy for the sole benefit of its own insatiable greed.

Now it's a bona fide quagmire, and nobody in power has the guts to admit it.

Colorado's prison population has exploded because politicians in the mid-1980s created the bogus war on drugs instead of doing the right thing - treating mental illness and addiction. Then to look tough, they doubled the sentences for all felonies....

Now, 20 years and billions of dollars later, the war continues without end, and no surge in incarceration is going to stop it.

DOC figures reveal that of the 21,000 inmates in state prisons, more than 4,000 are doing time for drug offenses, and 50 percent of those arrests were for simple possession. At the same time, funding for drug-treatment programs in the state has plummeted.

In contrast, New York state funded an aggressive program targeting nonviolent drug offenders in 1990, offering them deferred sentences if they pleaded guilty and enrolled in drug-treatment programs.

It cut recidivism rates 87 percent.

Diane Carmans article here

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