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.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Westwords Fourth Installment--Casey's Still Okay

Casey Holden and his parole officer seem to be getting along just fine so far. She approves of his decision to go to school, to try to make something of himself after spending most of the last decade behind bars. He appreciates that she treats him like a human being, even though the law doesn’t require her to do that.......

Holden has a lot to figure out if he’s going to complete his parole, a journey Westword is following in the blog series “I Shall Be Released” (see previous entries here ). But one of the most critical challenges is to live within the terms of his parole conditions — to do what The Man says. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. The 26-year-old has spent half his life in cells of one kind or another because the rules and Casey Holden don’t always get along. His story is one of long periods of neglect and minimal supervision, followed by disastrous confrontations, during which someone tried to shove a bunch of authority down his throat all at once.

At CSP Holden took classes that are supposed to prepare him to deal with the world again, this time as a citizen. But going straight from CSP to the street has been wildly disorienting. “There is no class that will prepare you for being around people again,” he says.

In moments of great stress and frustration, it’s easy to yearn for his old criminal life again — weed, riding around, short hours — even though a trip in that direction would probably end up back in the oblivion of prison life, surrounded by the kind of people he’s no longer allowed to write.

“They break you down in that place,” he says, “but they don’t build you back up.” — Alan Prendergast READ THE FOURTH INSTALLMENT HERE

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