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 27, 2007

Who's Gonna Work the Farms?

After the crackdown on immigration this year, there have been complaints from farmers that they aren't going to have any help out in the fields. The Department of Corrections has tentatively decided to jump in. The farmers are willing to pay pretty well, although we know that the people doing the work aren't going to make $9.60 an hour.... but they should make more than $2.00 a day.

It's basically "plantation revisited" and the fact that people want to exploit a prisoner's desire to work. This wouldn't be a job training program. It's a work program. Call a spade a spade. There aren't going to be jobs waiting for people once they get done on the farm and picking beans isn't going to be a great resume builder once they get back to town.

"Department of Corrections executive director Ari Zavaras said the work program would operate under the department's Correctional Industries Program, which helps inmates obtain work while in prison and learn a skill at the same time.

"We have a lot of details to work out, but this probably will start as a pilot program in Pueblo County. Depending on how well it works, we'll see where it will go," Zavaras said Monday.

Colorado prison inmates may soon help the state's farmers plant onions and pick melons under a program being developed by corrections officials and lawmakers.

The project is aimed at helping strapped farmers deal with a shortage of farm laborers caused by a crackdown on illegal immigration.

"When you have a crop sitting in the field and you have no one to harvest it, you'll try anything," said Pueblo County farmer Phil Prutch. "I'm willing to try it."

Prutch, who grows tomatoes, peppers, corn and squash, said tougher immigration laws passed by the legislature last year chased away most of his reliable help from Mexico and other countries.

Zavaras said the program fits in with his and Gov. Bill Ritter's new emphasis on reducing recidivism in state prisons....

The two Pueblo vegetable farmers said they need from five to 20 workers and are willing to pay up to $9.60 an hour, more than they've paid migrant workers in the past, but they can't find anyone to do the work.

Zavaras said he is hopeful something will be done before the farmers need them in May and June, when the local growing season begins." Denver Post

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