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 08, 2007

Ritter's New Budget Request Amendments Call For Recidivism Programs


THURSDAY, FEB. 8, 2007



Governor to submit FY 07-08 requests to JBC on Friday;
also includes efficiency review and driver’s license offices

Gov. Bill Ritter will submit budget amendments to the Joint Budget Committee on Friday calling for programs to fight prison recidivism, increased financial aid for college students and a comprehensive government efficiency review. The package also includes plans to open two driver’s license offices and two civil rights offices.

The budget amendments reflect changes to Gov. Owens’ FY07-08 spending plan. “Despite the short amount of time we had to review the budget, these amendments highlight some of my top priorities,” Ritter said. “Next year’s budget will provide a more complete sense of those priorities. We will always strive to provide services that people want and expect, and we’ll do it as efficiently as possible.”

Highlights from the governor’s proposals:

Invest in programs to reduce the state’s nearly 50 percent prison recidivism rate and save $3.2 million as a result. As the number of repeat offenders returning to prison declines, Ritter estimates the state could save as much as $12.5 million annually in future years. Programs to be funded in 2007-08 would provide mental health, substance abuse, job placement, at-risk youth, community corrections and transitional housing services.
“Reducing the number of inmates who return to prison as repeat offenders not only saves money, it means fewer victims of crime and it keeps people safer,” Ritter said.

Fund $25 million in capital construction projects on college campuses and other state buildings around Colorado, and provide an additional $5.7 million in financial aid for students.

Construction projects include $7 million to cover inflationary costs for a new science and engineering building at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs; $3.2 million in technology and telecommunications upgrades at Front Range, Lamar and Morgan community colleges; $1.5 million to begin upgrading Berndt Hall at Fort Lewis College; and $13.4 million in maintenance projects on campuses and other state buildings.

These are all new projects being recommended by Ritter except for the UCCS science and engineering building, which was the only continuation funding project recommended by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education but omitted by former Gov. Owens. The funds would come from redirecting inflation savings from other capital projects and from general fund savings.

The financial aid proposals would provide $5.3 million for need-based assistance through the Department of Higher Education’s new “Colorado’s College Responsibility Grant” program, as well as $430,000 for the state’s American Indian tuition program.
“I worked my way through college and law school, but I also received financial aid,” Ritter said. “My commitment to today’s young people and to future generations is that we’ll do everything we can to keep college affordable and within reach. College is the lifeline to a brighter tomorrow.”

Open two driver’s license offices in Jefferson and Adams counties to help reduce long lines and wait times. Owens closed two dozen driver’s license offices around the state several years ago because of budget constraints.

An increase in the driver’s license fee (from $15 to $19.40) and specialty license plate fees (from $25 to $50) would provide $1.3 million to open the offices. It also would provide non-general-fund revenue to restore 25 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions.

The new fee would be well below the national average of $27.05, and less than the $25.75 regional average (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming). Coloradans must renew their driver’s licenses every five years, so the new fee averages out to $4 per year. The driver’s license fee was last increased in 1991, from $6.50 to $15.

“This is about helping people,” Ritter said. “We’ve all heard or personally experienced the frustrations with long lines at driver’s license offices. Let’s do something about it.”

Re-open two civil rights offices overseen by the state Division of Civil Rights. The state eliminated its regional civil rights offices in 2001-02. Funding for two FTEs would come from federal grants, and the offices would be opened in Pueblo and Grand Junction.

Provide $750,000 for Ritter’s Government Efficiency and Management (G.E.M.) performance review, which he announced during his State of the State speech last month. The review will identify ways to improve customer service; eliminate unnecessary or redundant services; and implement new, innovative and smarter ways to deliver essential services. The year-long review is expected to identify significant long-term savings. The state is currently soliciting requests for proposals from qualified consulting firms.

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