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.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Spitzer and Swarzenegger - Prison Reform

From coast to coast, how small changes in policy can divert a crisis, or create one. My mother always said "if you want to be successful, find someone who is and just do whatever it is that they do." We need to decide what we want our own prison crisis to look like in five years, and what success really means to Colorado.

New York's Eliot Spitzer, the tough ex-prosecutor turned governor, wants a commission to examine closing some of his state's dozens of prisons. Meanwhile, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is pressing for $11 billion in bonds to add 78,000 beds to California's already burgeoning and overtaxed system.

What's going on here?

Partly, it's what both men inherited. New York's prison population peaked at 71,000 inmates in 1999 but has dropped by 8,000 since. Major explanations: dropping crime levels (especially in New York City) and increased efforts to find alternative treatment for nonviolent offenders.

California's prison population, meanwhile, has continued to surge. It's now at 173,000 inmates, an $8 billion yearly bill. Overcrowding and threats of riots are so serious that a senior prison official last year warned of "an imminent and substantial threat to the public."

Seattle Times Editorial here

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