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, January 10, 2008

First Commission Meeting On Friday

During the last leg session a house bill was passed to create Colorado's new sentencing commission. That commission is made up of 27 people who have been appointed by Gov. Ritter. As expected most of the slots are ex-officio, although we fought for community slots to be included as well. The first meeting will be held on Friday, January 11. CCJRC looks forward to be involved and we will keep you updated.

Members of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice will sit down Friday to begin tackling questions on sentencing, recidivism and other factors contributing to the state's fast-growing prison population.

"The challenge is significant. The time is right to address the issues," said Peter Weir, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety and commission chairman.

Gov. Bill Ritter, who set up the commission and appointed the 27 members, will speak at the first session.

Other speakers will include Paul Herman of the Center for Effective Public Policy, Jefferson City, Mo.; Chris Stone of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University; Dr. Rick Kern of the Virginia Criminal Sentencing Commission; former State Sen. Sally Hopper and former State Rep. Peggy Kerns, both members of a previous state crime commission.

The session, open to the public, will be from noon to 5 p.m. at the National Enforcement Training Institute at 12345 W. Alameda Ave. in Lakewood.

The commission was an initiative of the governor, a former Denver district attorney, said Lance Clem, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

"The governor is concerned about the impact of incarceration on the state budget and how to find cost-effective alternatives to incarceration," Clem said.

The state has 23,000 inmates housed in facilities throughout the state and 10,000 parolees.

Criminal justice officials expect the state's prison population to rise nearly 25 percent in the next six years. The Department of Corrections budget is now more than $702 million.

Statistics indicate 90-95 percent of prisoners will be released, but one of every two ex-cons will return to prison within three years.

The commission will look at recidivism rates and prisoner re-entry, Weir said. It also will look at prevention and alternatives to incarceration, he said.

Rocky Mountain Ne