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.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Prisoners of the Census Bureau

The Real Cost of Prisons points us to an article that examines how we have no idea how or where to count the 2.2 million people that we have incarcerated and what the consequences of that are. It's an issue for Colorado since most of our 22,000 incarcerated people are in rural areas spread out across the state, and in time, the prison populations for these rural towns can match or even exceed the real populations of those towns.

TODAY, MORE THAN 2 million people, or nearly one out of every 100 adults, is sitting in a jail or prison in the United States -- an incarceration rate unprecedented in U.S. history.

The total number of prisoners is not in dispute. But how to tabulate them is emerging as perhaps the most vexing issue of the 2010 census.

The U.S. Census Bureau counts prisoners as residents of the towns and counties where they are incarcerated, even though most inmates have no ties to those communities and almost always return to their home neighborhoods upon release.

This has enormous and unsettling political and economic consequences, especially for California. The state banishes many of its urban offenders to prisons clustered in rural areas and intends to send at least 5,000 of its inmates out of state to cope with the prison overcrowding crisis....A provocative analysis by the Prison Policy Initiative estimates that if prisoners held in upstate New York were counted in their home neighborhoods, at least four state Senate seats — all Republican — would be in jeopardy after redistricting.

As Michigan state Rep. LaMar Lemmons (D-Detroit), a proponent of census reform, said: "Prison is not a residence; it is a condition."

LA Times Editorial here

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