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

Putting Money Into Treatment

An amended budget plan submitted by Ritter last week calls for an $8 million increase in spending next year with the aim of decreasing future prison construction and operating costs by $14.2 million or more.

To cover some of the costs of the programs, Ritter would reduce prison-bed spending by $3.2 million in the 2007-08 budget. Owens' budget called for $12.9 million to cover the costs of additional prison beds.

"I think this is a good first step," said Ari Zavaras, executive director of the Department of Corrections....

On the campaign trail, Ritter described his commitment to reducing the state's prison costs as a "moral obligation."

The cost of building and running prisons is squeezing the state budget and taking money away from schools, he said.

Twenty years ago, the state spent $63 million from the general fund budget to run prisons. In 2006-07, the cost was $585 million from the general fund.

Advocates for criminal-justice reform said they were encouraged by Ritter's shift in priorities but want him to do more.

Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, which represents 104 organizations and faith-based groups, said they want the state to put even more money into programs because putting sick people behind bars doesn't solve the problems.

"Incarceration doesn't cure mental illness," she said. "Incarceration doesn't cure substance abuse."

Denver Post article here.

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