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, September 03, 2007

Time Management - Denver County Jail

For the Denver Broncos' season opener this Sunday, Ricky Trippy and friends will gather in front of the television and snack from a steaming pile of junk food they like to call "The Spread."

Ramen noodles piled with Cheetos preheated in a microwave, chunks of summer sausage, spoonfuls of rehydrated beans and "squeeze cheese" on top. A side of tortillas helps hold the mess together.

Nothing unusual, of course, about the boys grazing greedily in front of a Broncos game. Except when the room decor is cinder block and iron bars, the hallway door is guarded by a sheriff's deputy, and if Broncos fan Trippy wants to see a game in person, he'll have to wait 18 months. That's when he can leave Denver County Jail after serving his time for aggravated assault.

Broncos games, Mexican league soccer matches, weekend movie nights and "Nova" episodes are prime entertainment - often the only entertainment - for prisoners in county jails, state prisons and federal facilities across Colorado.

But they are more than that: As jails grow more crowded, correction authorities look to electronic entertainment as one way to keep the peace. Beyond that, they believe, prisoners just might pick up some knowledge that could help prepare them for life after jail. Even an expanded cable package, for example, might help with both goals, adding science and wildlife channels to a TV lineup dominated by soaps, sitcoms and sports.

Question of balance

That means developing guidelines that can adjust to prisoner behavior and periodic backlashes from a public outraged by a new crime. Currently, corrections authorities are redrawing their policies on R-rated movies and expanded TV packages, trying to survey the line between useful privilege and harmful extravagance.

At Denver County Jail - built for 1,500 inmates but housing 2,100 - officials just created a committee to review specific prisoner requests for films, including R-rated movies.

The Denver Post

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