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, July 31, 2008

Getting Ready For Reentry in Arizona

When Edward Maxwell III arrived at Arizona’s Lewis prison near Phoenix, he nearly hit rock bottom. The job assigned to the man convicted of first-degree murder was raking – rocks.

The task befit the hopeless place, where in 2004, Lewis inmates held two officers hostage for 15 days, the longest such standoff in United States history.

But that was then.

Today, the head of Arizona corrections says violence inside state prisons has sharply decreased, and released inmates are less likely to return to prison. It’s the result of a new public policy innovation, Arizona officials say, that begins preparing prisoners for reentry to society from their first day in prison. Arizona’s “Getting Ready” program is garnering nationwide attention, as states face skyrocketing incarceration and release rates.

“You start to think about your future more and what you can offer your family, your community, and even the people you victimized,” says Mr. Maxwell in a telephone interview. He has been in prison for 22 years and will be eligible for parole in 2011.

Before Getting Ready, prisoners had no autonomy, says Dora Schriro, director of Arizona Corrections, a system of some 38,000 inmates in 10 prison complexes. They were told when to eat, when to sleep, and not helped to develop positive pastimes. They were ill-prepared to reenter society.

“A good inmate [was someone] who sits in their bunk, follows orders, never talks back. A bad ex-offender will lay on the bed, doesn’t get a job.… Someone who doesn’t learn how to use leisure time,” Ms. Schriro says.

Getting Ready upends those expectations, she says. Within one week of entry, inmates receive a needs assessment and individualized corrections plan. They’re expected to participate in work or education, self-development, and restorative-justice activities seven days a week. Benefits are tied to accomplishing goals.

Implemented in 2004 with significant input from correctional officers, community members, and prisoners, Getting Ready creates a “parallel universe” in prison, reflecting as much of the outside world’s challenges and opportunities as possible.

Christian Science Monitor

Legislators Want To End Penalties For Pot

(CNN) -- The U.S. should stop arresting responsible marijuana users, Rep. Barney Frank said Wednesday, announcing a proposal to end federal penalties for Americans carrying fewer than 100 grams, almost a quarter-pound, of the substance.

Rep. Barney Frank's bill would radically curb federal penalties for personal marijuana use.

Current laws targeting marijuana users place undue burdens on law enforcement resources, punish ill Americans whose doctors have prescribed the substance and unfairly affect African-Americans, said Frank, flanked by legislators and representatives from advocacy groups.

"The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business," Frank said on Capitol Hill. "I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time."

The Massachusetts Democrat and his supporters emphasized that only the use -- and not the abuse -- of marijuana would be decriminalized if the resolution resulted in legislation. Video Watch Frank lay out the proposal »

The Drug Enforcement Administration says people charged with simple possession are rarely incarcerated. The agency and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have long opposed marijuana legalization, for medical purposes or otherwise.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, according to the drug control office.

Don't Miss

"Smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science -- it is not medicine and it is not safe," the DEA states on its Web site. "Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety. It will create dependency and treatment issues, and open the door to use of other drugs, impaired health, delinquent behavior, and drugged drivers."

Allen St. Pierre, spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, likened Frank's proposal -- co-sponsored by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas -- to current laws dealing with alcohol consumption. Alcohol use is permitted, and the government focuses its law enforcement efforts on those who abuse alcohol or drive under its influence, he said.

"We do not arrest and jail responsible alcohol drinkers," he said.

St. Pierre said there are tens of millions of marijuana smokers in the United States, including himself, and hundreds of thousands are arrested each year for medical or personal use. iReport.com: Is it time to legalize pot?

There have been 20 million marijuana-related arrests since 1965, he said, and 11 million since 1990, and "every 38 seconds, a marijuana smoker is arrested."

Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project, said marijuana arrests outnumber arrests for "all violent crimes combined," meaning police are spending inordinate amounts of time chasing nonviolent criminals.

"Ending arrests is the key to marijuana policy reform," he said.

Reps. William Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, and Barbara Lee, D-California, said that in addition to targeting nonviolent offenders, U.S. marijuana laws unfairly target African-Americans.

Clay said he did not condone drug use but opposes using tax dollars to pursue what he feels is an arcane holdover from "a phony war on drugs that is filling up our prisons, especially with people of color.

CNN News

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CCJRC in the News - Operation To Get Those In Jail To Vote

Fox news called CCJRC and asked to do an interview with Carol on the work that we are doing to help people who are in jail vote. The important part of the work that we are doing is to educate people about their rights. Of course they put the convicted felon spin on it. It is Fox news. You can access the video here
Fox News

Colorado Top 10 In Marijuana Use

The potency of marijuana has increased over 151 percent since 1983. But Coloradans still say, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”

A study released yesterday by the Office of National Drug Control Policy indicates that Colorado ranks in the top 10 for states with the highest current marijuana use. At least 7.6 percent of Coloradans smoked weed in the past month.

Also, contrary to arguments made by pot proponents, the 2008 Marijuana Sourcebook revealed that less than one half of 1 percent of inmates in state prisons are serving time for marijuana possession only. Marijuana still accounts for two out of five drug violation arrests nationwide.

Drug Czar John Walters said that while marijuana use among teens has continued to decrease, convincing adults to stop using the drug has remained a problem.

“Baby Boomers have this perception that marijuana is about fun and freedom. It isn’t,” he said. “It’s about dependency, disease and dysfunction.”

The Marijuana Sourcebook was released one day before Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., is expected to hold a news conference today in Washington announcing plans to introduce legislation that would remove federal penalties for personal marijuana use. The resolution would eliminate federal penalties for the adult possession of up to 100 grams of marijuana, and for the not-for-profit transfer of up to one ounce of the drug.

“The Drug Czar must be truly scared of the federal marijuana decriminalization bill that is moving through Congress,” said Denver pot proponent Mason Tvert. “It appears his office spent more time preparing this one marijuana ‘report’ than it has ever spent actually helping people with substance abuse problems receive treatment.”

Tvert is an advocate of legalizing marijuana. He ran a successful campaign in Denver in 2005 that legalized the adult possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. A second successful campaign last year instructed the Denver Police Department to make marijuana its lowest enforcement priority. The campaign was launched after Denver marijuana arrests increased despite the decision by voters in 2005.

Tvert said that while few marijuana users are thrown in prison, the fact that they’re arrested in the first place is a significant problem.

“They are permanently branded as criminals with drug convictions just for using a drug less harmful than alcohol,” he said. “If the Drug Czar is so thrilled with how states are handling those arrested for marijuana possession, he should support the bill introduced by Rep. Barney Frank that simply leaves marijuana enforcement up to the states.”

Denver Daily News

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Conflict in Hettrick Case?

Seven months after the governor asked the state attorney general to reopen the probe into Peggy Hettrick's murder, state investigators have yet to access the physical evidence warehoused in the case.

The delay stems from an escalating dispute with Tim Masters' lawyers, who are seeking a court-ordered protocol to ensure that the evidence, currently stored in Larimer County district court, is properly handled and preserved by state officials.

In recent days, his attorneys also have filed court papers seeking to disqualify Attorney General John Suthers' office from overseeing the inquiry into the 1987 homicide because of its defense of Masters' now-vacated conviction.

"This is a blatant conflict of interest," Masters' lawyers allege in a new court petition. "The Attorney General was an integral part of the mechanism which resulted in the original conviction being upheld (by the state Supreme Court). The attorney general cannot be expected to do justice since it has a vested interest. . . ."

A spokesman for Suthers said he would not comment on the court fight except to say, "We will continue to do everything we believe is necessary to investigate (the cold case)."

In court briefs, Suthers' attorneys have stated that they harbor no prejudice toward Masters in light of the murder charges being dropped against him.

The Denver Post

Teen Goes To Court Against Greeley Mayor

GREELEY — A 15-year-old testified Monday that Greeley Mayor Ed Clark's long-standing vendetta against him culminated with Clark body-slamming him into the dirt June 23 in their subdivision.

The teen, Remington Stitt, told a judge that he wants a permanent restraining order placed against Clark because he fears the mayor will come after him again.

"He lets his emotions get to him," Remington told Weld District Judge Timothy Kerns. "He can't control his actions."

Clark, a former Greeley police officer, allegedly pulled Remington off his motorbike, threw him to the ground and held him there with his arms pulled behind his back until police arrived.

Remington was ticketed for driving a motor vehicle with no driver's license and operating an off-road vehicle on the roadway.

But his parents contend Clark and his wife, Erin, have threatened their son.

The day after the June 23 incident, they got a temporary restraining order against Clark that keeps him away from Remington.

Remington's lawyer, Maria Liu, argued the order should be permanent because Clark has basically "stalked" her client. Erin Clark has also mocked Remington and his mom because their home is going into foreclosure, Liu said.

Clark's lawyer, however, contended Remington is guilty of harassing Clark and his family.

The Denver Post

Monday, July 28, 2008

8 Tips For An Easier Prison Stay - Mother Jones

By Peter Laufer
">so the feds nailed you for insider trading. Or maybe you lied to a grand jury to cover for your boss. Either way, you're about to trade your tailored suit for an orange jumpsuit, and you're freaked. Your trepidation is the livelihood of prison consultants, who, for a fee, will help prepare you for a stint in the pokey. We asked a few of them to share their tips for surviving hard time.

Leggo your ego: Be humble. New prisoners will "lock eyes with the wrong person and have problems," says Steven Oberfest, an ex-bouncer and personal trainer who won't say what he did time for. "This is not Fifth Avenue and their penthouse anymore. They're just a number."

Hard knocks: Never enter someone's cell without permission, says Steve Scholl, a former management consultant who now goes by the moniker Dr. Prison. "It's about respect. People get killed over that."

Presumed innocent: Don't go asking what someone is in for, advises Oberfest. Ask what he's accused of.

Ethnic cleansing: Don't mix with prisoners of other races, Dr. Prison warns. "Things we don't even consider a problem between races here are a very extreme focus inside. If there's a fight, every race needs to depend on their own race to protect them."

Sleeping dogs: "Miserable people want to be miserable...treat them with extreme caution," advises Robert McDorman, a former Texas car dealer who did 26 months for federal bank fraud.

The best defense: Just in case, Oberfest says you must learn to "drop someone incredibly fast."

Unwanted interest: Says Oberfest, "If you bum a smoke and the guy with the cigarettes says, 'Sure, it's a twofer,' you should know a twofer means, 'I give you one for two, so now you owe me.'"

Alone time: Oberfest advises high-profile clients such as politicians to request solitary confinement, or even feign mental illness to get into the psych ward. "If you're segregated, you're going to have a much easier time."

Mother Jones

Hunger Strike To Protest Loss Of Priviliges

Kirk Mitchell

A convicted killer serving a life prison sentence has been on a hunger strike for 10 days to protest reduced prison activities for inmates after authorities took away his drums.

Jonathan Kasper, 39, began the hunger strike with five other inmates at the Limon Correctional Facility on July 14, said Katherine Sanguinetti, spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Kasper is the only Limon inmate continuing his fast, Sanguinetti said.

In a complaint letter Kasper sent to prison officials, he contended the prison has cut back on organized sports, weight lifting, music and photograph programs and recreation time on living pods.

His mother, Marjorie Kasper, 70, said the prison stopped allowing a prison band to play together. Her son was the drummer.

"They just keep cutting back and cutting back," Marjorie Kasper said. "I'm very concerned. Jonathan lost 32 pounds in the first week."

Before the hunger strike, the 6-foot-1- inch Kasper weighed 225 pounds, according to prison records.

Sanguinetti acknowledged the prison has tightened security and cut back on some prison activities after another convicted killer, Allen Thomas Jr., slit correctional officer Pam Kahanic's throat in September during a sewing workshop. Thomas raped and fatally stabbed 71-year- old Leah Mae Bratsch in 1991.

Kahanic survived the attack.

Limon is also where inmate Jeffrey Heird was fatally stabbed in 2004 by fellow inmates and convicted killer Edward Montour Jr. fatally beat correctional officer Eric Autobee with a large ladle in 2002.

In the past two months, the prison has quelled 10 major fights involving more than two inmates at a time, Sanguinetti said.

The prison is also operating with fewer staff members to provide security. During 2002 budget cuts, Limon lost staff positions that still haven't been restored, Sanguinetti said.

Kasper was placed in segregation May 24 after he was a ringleader in a cafeteria "disturbance," Sanguinetti said.

On segregation, Kasper has lost privileges, including music activities, Sanguinetti said.

Since 1993, Kasper has been serving life without parole for killing a woman to steal money for cocaine, according to prison records and Marjorie Kasper.

The Denver Post

Chaplain Pushing To Save Lives

Daily Camera - With an award-winning self-help book to his name and an addiction-recovery foundation under his direction, Boulder County’s jail chaplain is back from a one-year sabbatical and taking ground-breaking counseling steps to help inmates turn their lives around.

In an age of advancing technology and shifting addictions, Joe Herzanek has started counseling former inmates and their families via e-mail. He’s also launched a Web site and foundation packed with self-help resources, and he’s penned an award-winning book that dares to answer the question, “Why Don’t They Just Quit?”

In 2007, Herzanek left the daily chaplain grind of helping inmates work through issues — both on a spiritual and physical level — to become an author, foundation principal and innovator.

During his time off, Herzanek said he gained renewed perspective and insight for helping people battle addiction, and in his 15th year at the jail, Herzanek has instituted its first 12-step narcotics-addiction class.

Male and female inmates in Boulder County can attend one of five Narcotics Anonymous classes.

Boulder Daily Camera

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Vultures Circle Sturgis: One Man Fights Back

Good information to know if you are planning a trip to South Dakota this year.

From the Drug War Chronicle:

South Dakota's annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally begins next weekend and, as usual, is expected to draw huge crowds of motorcycling enthusiasts. Eric Sage won't be one of them. Instead, he will be busy suing a South Dakota county, its prosecutors, and a Highway Patrolman over what happened to him when he went last year.

In addition to the hordes of bikers, the rally also attracts the attention of South Dakota law enforcement, with the state pulling large numbers of Highway Patrol troopers from East River to the Black Hills, where they lurk on the sides of highways like vultures waiting for their prey. And, if Highway Patrol statistics are any indication, the hunting is good.

Main Street during Sturgis Rally (courtesy Wikimedia)
Most weeks, state troopers make a handful of felony drug arrests and three or four dozen misdemeanor ones. Last year during Sturgis week, the Highway Patrol bragged that it had made a whopping 38 felony and 192 misdemeanor drug arrests.

Eric Sage and three of his friends made up four of them. As we reported last year, Sage was driving a motorcycle home from the rally while his three friends convoyed with him in a pick-up truck. Sage was pulled over for "weaving" in his own lane by a state trooper, and the pick-up stopped a ways up the road to wait for him. The trooper, Dan Trautman, then asked for and received permission to search the pick-up, and found a pipe and a miniscule amount of marijuana. He then charged all four with possession of paraphernalia, including Sage, who wasn't even in the vehicle.

Sage refused to plead guilty to a crime he had not committed. Then, just before an October dispositional hearing, Gina Nelson of the Pennington County state's attorney's office left a message on Sage's phone: "If you don't plead to 'paraphernalia', we'll charge you with 'ingestion'" -- an offense unique to South Dakota.

Drug War Chronicle

Ohio's Short Term Offender Program

Reginald Fields
Plain Dealer Bureau

Columbus -- Willie Wheat Jr. is tired of stretching the truth, to put it kindly, when he explains to his 6-year-old daughter why he's never home.

"We tell her, Daddy's on vacation,' " the Cleveland man says with a tinge of regret as he pauses to let those words sink deep.

Actually, Daddy is locked up, doing his third stint in state prison for being a small-time, drug-peddling street hustler. He doesn't have the heart to tell the girl the truth.

But this trip to the slammer is different for Wheat. He's getting help. He'll come out with a high school diploma. He's getting advice on how to handle adversity. And he's learning to live debt-free so that quick cash from dealing dope won't be so tempting.

It's the type of help Wheat wanted before, but he was always shut out of programs, he said. He thinks its discipline will keep him out of prison.

Wheat is enrolled in the Short Term Offender program at the Lorain Correctional Institution, where inmates with three months or less to serve before they are released are moved into isolated housing and offered a list of classroom-based programs.

Offering inmates programs such as fast-track GED, anger management and victim awareness is nothing new. But how the programs are now being structured at three Ohio prisons is.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction has a problem: too many inmates and too few programs to serve them. Compounding that problem is that 60 percent of Ohio's 50,000 inmates -- like Wheat -- are in prison for less than a year.

Those prisoners almost always miss out on programs because they are often released without ever coming off the long wait lists for services.

To address the problem, the corrections department began its Short Term Offender programs at its three intake prison facilities. Prisoners who arrive with months rather than years before they go home are shoved to the front of the programming line.

"I know right now that the people who are in that program have the ability to get something that they have not gotten before," corrections director Terry Collins said.

"Before, when you came in the system it was first-come, first-serve when you got there," he said. "Now when you come in the system, we take you to the front of the line."

At Lorain, inmates in the program are also kept in separate housing, said Warden Marc Houk, a change made three months ago.

Before, inmates with short terms would come in, mix with the general population and, more often than not, ride out their days in prison without giving thought to working or participating in a rehab program.

Read the Article Here

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Trooper Arrested In Net Sting

I can believe that there are some people still stupid enough to do this kind of thing....but a cop?

A state trooper was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a child after Fort Lupton police said he used the Internet to send graphic sexual pictures of himself to a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Fort Lupton Police Chief Ron Grannis said Colorado State Patrol Officer Justin Tolman, 22, was arrested Friday morning at his home in Colorado Springs and was booked into the Weld County Jail.

Tolman - who has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of a State Patrol investigation - has been with the State Patrol since July 2007 and finished the academy in December.

Grannis said his department began investigating Tolman after Detective Crystal Schwartz set up Internet accounts on MySpace.com and Yahoo! Chat posing as a 14- year-old girl.

Soon after the account was set up, Tolman began messaging Schwartz, sending her pornographic images and telling her what he would do sexually when they met, investigators said.

Police say Tolman even sent a picture of himself in a State Patrol uniform standing next to a patrol vehicle, and he messaged the "girl" every day for two months.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Larimer County Sheriff Expects Budget Cuts

With $1.4M to trim, office likely to drop out of drug task force


A tight 2009 budget for Larimer County is likely to translate to the Sheriff's Office pulling out of the Larimer County Drug Task Force.

Other department programs are likely to be cut and some employees may face lay offs, Sheriff Jim Alderden said following a meeting Thursday with the county commissioners on the county's budget problems.

The Sheriff's Office will have to find at least $1.4 million to trim from its budget to deal with revenue decreases and increased costs for salaries and benefits, Alderden said. Cuts are not likely to come from operations.

"It is squeezed down to as tight as it can get," he said. "Whatever cuts are going to come will have to come from personnel, as in layoffs."

The commissioners said all county departments face serious belt-tightening next year because of tight revenue projections.

Some departments have been told to expect no more than a 1 percent increase in funding next year. Some will see no increase while others will see their allocations reduced 1 percent, although they'll still need to deal with increased costs for personnel and energy.

Offices dealing with public safety, which take up 54 percent of the county's roughly $280 million annual budget, have to share in the cuts, said Commissioner Kathay Rennels.

The Sheriff's Office is not being singled out for cuts, she said.

"You're going to see reductions in a lot of services," she said.

Two factors are complicating the county's finances, said budget director Bob Keister.

The county is facing a $2.2 million shortfall next year in a 0.2 percent sales tax that helps fund operations of the county jail and its annual expenses. Other sources of revenue, including property taxes, are expected to be flat.

The Coloradoan

DA Candidates Talking Treatment

It's good to hear that diversion and treatment are being discussed on both sides of the aisle.

DA candidates meet in forum
Juvenile-diversion programs popular

July 24, 2008
| Herald Staff Writer

With less than a month until the Democratic primary, candidates for district attorney for the 6th Judicial District have been civil and largely in accord on most prosecutorial issues.

The two Democrats and one Republican vying for the job support giving first-time young offenders a second chance to stay out of jail. But their level of support and methods for doing so vary - slightly.

The candidates shared their views Wednesday at Durango City Hall during a one-hour candidates forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of La Plata County. The 6th Judicial District includes Archuleta, San Juan and La Plata counties.

Democrat Todd Risberg expressed the strongest support for diversion programs such as drug court, DUI court, restorative justice and victim-offender mediation. Such programs are designed to keep low-level offenders out of jail and change an offender's behavior.

"What I want to do is use approaches that actually work to deal with the problems," Risberg said. "What we can't do is keep doing what we're doing - old-school traditional prosecution."

David Duncan, also a Democrat who supports diversion programs, said for mediation programs to work, both the victim and the offender must be willing to participate.

"What I believe we need to do is take a look at the programs you already have in place, enhance those programs and get more support for them and do everything you can to keep the juveniles out of the criminal-justice system," he said.

Russell Wasley, the sole Republican seeking the district attorney's position, said diversion programs in Archuleta County are under-funded, and he is committed to finding more resources to bolster them. Sending juveniles to detention centers is a last resort, he said.

"What we try to do with juveniles is find alternative-treatment methods and ways to educate the young person out of the behavior that got them into trouble in the first place," Wasley said.

Duncan and Risberg will face each other in the Democratic Party primary Aug. 12. The winner will take on Wasley in the November general election.

Risberg earned a spot on the ballot in March after Democratic Party delegates voted for him by a margin of more than two-to-one over Sarah Law, who served as district attorney from 1996 through 2004.

Duncan will appear on the Democratic ballot after collecting about 1,600 signatures.

District Attorney Craig Westberg, a Republican who faces charges of careless driving and driving under the influence of sleeping medication, is not seeking re-election.

Other issues discussed at Wednesday's forum included the methamphetamine epidemic, term limits for judges and the death penalty.
Durango Herald

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Closing Juvenile Prisons in California

SACRAMENTO—A state watchdog commission recommended Monday that California phase out its antiquated juvenile prisons by 2011, replacing them with regional lockups run by counties.

The regional centers would hold only the most dangerous offenders under the proposal by the Little Hoover Commission. Less serious offenders would be housed at local juvenile halls.

Commissioners said the state also should end its three-year experiment with combining youth and adult prisons under the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Authority over youth prisons would be placed under an Office of Juvenile Justice reporting to the governor until the state ends its involvement.

It will cost taxpayers $378 million next year to care for the state's 1,500 juvenile inmates, the panel said in a report to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders. The report also suggests that the youth prisons do little in the way of rehabilitation, saying three of four freed young offenders commit new crimes within three years.

"Californians may fairly ask what they are getting for this outlay and whether other strategies can better deliver public safety and youth rehabilitation," commission chairman Daniel Hancock wrote.

A law that took effect in September already requires the state to transfer all but the most serious offenders to counties' jurisdiction.

From the report:
....The Commission recommends that the state begin planning now to ultimately eliminate its juvenile justice operations and create regional rehabilitative facilities for high-risk, high-need offenders to be leased to and run by the counties.

Juvenile justice operations and policy should be moved from the Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation and placed in a separate Office of Juvenile Justice that reports to the governor’s office.

This office should combine and consolidate the juvenile justice divisions currently under the chief
deputy secretary of juvenile justice as well as the juvenile offender grant administration and
oversight currently under the Corrections Standards Authority. Consolidating these activities into one office will fill gaps that exist despite the multiple agencies and committees charged with pieces of juvenile justice policy and oversight.

Establishing an Office of Juvenile Justice does more than streamline and consolidate overlapping
functions; it establishes an office to lead statewide juvenile justice efforts, to ensure that a
continuum of proven responses to juvenile crime are available throughout California. The state has long lacked a strong leadership structure for juvenile justice, and the realignment legislation failed to assign a single entity to be accountable for state operations and for how counties use state funds.

The realignment legislation did temporarily reconstitute the State Commission on Juvenile Justice, though the jury is still out on what role it can play in providing leadership or oversight. The Legislature should extend the commission’s life another year.

Through the new office, the state can provide real value through consistent leadership, technical
advice and guidance to help counties implement and expand evidence-based programs for juvenile offenders. This office should conduct research and analysis on best practices and share them with counties. It should coordinate with other state agencies that provide youth services and provide counties with guidance on how to best leverage funding sources.

....And The Survey Says...

What about exit surveys for parole, prison or jail?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Got an issue with how you were treated in court? Write it down.

That’s the only way officials with Mesa County’s 21st Judicial District will know how to rectify the situation.

Anyone and everyone who walks out of or stops by the Mesa County Justice Center at 125 N. Spruce St. during business hours today is invited to air their concerns on how they think the court system is doing. Volunteers, including judges and courthouse employees, are requesting folks to fill out the surveys, and the data will be used to measure public opinion about access and fairness within the court system.

Surveys ask participants about courthouse security, how they were treated while at the courthouse, if they understood what was happening in their cases and whether they were given clear information. Surveys are available in English and Spanish.

After receiving the results of last year’s survey, court officials complied with participants’ requests to lengthen hours at the court clerk’s office and improve the district’s Web site.

Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley, who took a turn in the lobby of the justice center seeking survey participants, said people seem to be most unhappy with having to wait for long periods during busy docket days.

“I really think a lot of people think their voice isn’t heard,” he said. “The court system is in the business to serve the public to the best of its ability. The best way is to ask.”

Grand Junction Sentinel

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Advocates Help Inmates Vote From Jail

Naomi did a great job on this piece about what CCJRC is doing to try and help people vote. Thanks go out to Colorado Independent and Naomi.

By Naomi Zeveloff 07/23/2008

When it comes to voting rights, Colorado's prisoners are a sticky case study. Some can vote and some can't. But most of them don't have an inkling that they are eligible to exercise that right. Enter the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. The Denver-based prisoner advocacy group has been working furiously to let Colorado's incarcerated population know who is allowed at the ballot box. But because of state's complex regulations, that effort isn't as simple as it seems.

Voting rights for prisoners are determined on a state-by-state basis. Some, like Vermont or Maine, allow incarcerated felons to cast their votes. In Colorado, however, felons are barred from voting until they have completed their sentence and parole; that law has been on the books since 1876. Those on probation — a sentence offered as an alternative to prison where a person is free, but supervised in the community — can vote. And so can some people in jail: those awaiting trial and those serving a misdemeanor sentence.

While CCJRC has sponsored voter information drives in the past for all kinds of inmates, this year the group will focus on the jail population. In the next several weeks, the organization will distribute "Can I Vote From Jail?" brochures to the Denver County Jail and the city's Clerk and Recorder. CCJRC re-entry coordinator Carol Peeples, who is spearheading the effort, says that state agencies make no effort to let detainees know if they can vote.

"There is no education process with the Department of Corrections or with the Secretary of State," she says. "It's up to people to learn on their own."

Peeples first became involved with inmate voter advocacy when she taught a university course at a Buena Vista prison and happened to ask the inmates whether they were aware that they could vote once they left prison. The class remained largely silent, and Peeples realized that she had to act. In 2003 she organized a voter information campaign called the Colorado Voting Project to let ex-felons know their rights.

"There is so much misinformation," she says. "One guy was told by a federal probation officer that if he voted he would go to jail. So he didn't vote for 10 years."

Colorado Independent

Prison Escapee Charged

It's sad but I am not surprised that the DA decided to file charges on this case.


Susan M. LeFevre says she gained her freedom from prison 32 years ago by tossing her coat over a barbed wire fence, climbing over and hopping into a waiting car.

Gaining her freedom this time around just became more complicated.

The Thomas Township native's life on the lam ended in April, when authorities acting on a tip of LeFevre's assumed name arrested the mother of three in Del Mar, Calif., near San Diego.

On Monday, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy charged the 53-year-old with prison escape.

''We cannot have people walking away from prison,'' Worthy said.

''While it is admirable that Ms. LeFevre has made something of her life, she must accept responsibility for her earlier behavior. Inmates must know there is a consequence for escaping prison.''

If convicted, LeFevre could face probation or up to five more years in prison to serve after her present sentence. She's in the Scott Correctional Facility in Plymouth serving at least 51/2 years for selling heroin in 1974.

Saginaw News

Work For Prisoners

The Coloradoan - Brenda Rader Mross he only time I've ever been in jail was when I've drawn the Monopoly card demanding I go directly there. Despite a clean criminal record, I'm no saint. Guess you could say I'm an ordinary, average citizen, which at the same time is rather remarkable when you consider that today, more than one in every 100 Americans is behind bars.

How can a country set the standard for freedom in this world and also rank as its top incarcerator? Makes no sense to me, especially when much of what is truly criminal often goes unpunished. Take the abuse of funds by public officials, the latest offender being the Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation cited last week for "egregious waste."

Never will I understand nor accept how accountability can be absent when, within every bureaucracy, exists stratums of titled stewards supposedly in charge. Is managing our money just a game to them?

When taxpayers are worried about where in God's name are we going to get the extra cash needed just to keep our markers on the game board, now is not the time to ask for more play money.

This is why I believe Larimer County commissioners should hold off on their proposed sales tax hike for jail programs: bad timing. Finally, though, a move in the right direction: something new does need to be done within the criminal justice system to handle minimum security offenders, and especially those with mental-health needs and/or addiction problems.

The Coloradoan

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why We Are All Moral Hypocrites

This study should be presented to those who sit in some sort of judgment for a living..

Most of us, whether we admit it or not, are moral hypocrites. We judge others more severely than we judge ourselves.

Mounting evidence suggests moral decisions result from the jousting between our knee-jerk responses (think "survival instinct") and our slower, but more collected evaluations. Which is more responsible for our self-leniency?

To find out, a recent study presented people with two tasks. One was described as tedious and time-consuming; the other, easy and brief. The subjects were asked to assign each task to either themselves or the next participant. They could do this independently or defer to a computer, which would assign the tasks randomly. Eighty-five percent of 42 subjects passed up the computer’s objectivity and assigned themselves the short task – leaving the laborious one to someone else. Furthermore, they thought their decision was fair. However, when 43 other subjects watched strangers make the same decision, they thought it unjust.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Behind The Scene: San Quentin's University Project

Thanks Doc Berman for the h/t on this story from CNN:

In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents and producers share their experiences in covering news and analyze the stories behind the events. CNN's Soledad O'Brien and Stan Wilson visited San Quentin for "CNN Presents: Black in America" which airs July 23 and 24, at 9 p.m. ET.

SAN QUENTIN, California (CNN) -- San Quentin Prison sits like a fortress along the bay just north of San Francisco. It is bordered by some of the most expensive residential real estate in the country. But at the edge of this scenic peninsula, 5,400 inmates are locked up.

San Quentin has California's only death chamber, with 656 inmates waiting to be executed.

On death row, each prisoner is confined to a cell just large enough for a bed and toilet.

Walking along these multitiered cells, where each inmate is closely monitored or escorted in shackles, reminded me of all the pain and grief endured by relatives and friends of victims like Laci Peterson, Polly Klaas or Christine Orciuch, a mother of three who was shot to death by gang member Marcus Adams in front of her 10-year-old son during a bank robbery in Santa Barbara.

Less than a few hundred yards from death row, the climate is vastly different.

We found makeshift classroom bungalows and an exercise yard where inmate Larry Faison was performing the tunes of Miles Davis with his vintage trumpet. This environment looked and felt more like a community college setting.

This is where low- and midlevel convicts are able to get out once a day. There is a tennis court, a punching bag, a baseball stadium donated by the San Francisco Giants, a library and visiting instructors from prestigious universities.

Lt. Sam Robinson, a 27-year veteran of San Quentin, gave a tour of 27 vocational programs run by about 3,000 volunteers as part of the Prison University Project, a nonprofit education program that offers many black men an opportunity to earn an associate of arts degree. It helps give those eligible for parole the intellectual tools to compete in a vastly changing job market. Video Inmate: It took coming to prison to see someone in school »

Read the story here

Drug Laws Fertilize Teen Violence

Joy Strickland, the CEO of Mothers Against Teen Violence in Dallas writes this thoughtful piece.

As an advocate in the crusade to prevent teen violence, my starting point is that every child deserves a safe and supportive home, school and community. Prevention strategies such as mentoring and conflict resolution – not to mention personal responsibility – are key pieces of the strategies of Mothers Against Teen Violence and other groups committed to preventing violence in our communities.

But those pieces are only part of the solution and must be balanced and supported by a rational and effective national drug policy.

Enacted during the Nixon administration, the so-called war on drugs was designed to reduce supply and diminish demand for certain substances deemed harmful or undesirable. But the drug war has never met this objective, and unintended consequences have undermined the health and safety of our citizens, especially our children.

I will never forget 9-year-old Cory Weems, who was killed by a stray bullet in 1994 while having ice cream on his grandmother's front porch in Dallas. A drug dealer engaged in a car chase was convicted of this crime. Cory's picture hangs on my office wall, a reminder of one of the drug war's victims.

Or consider that despite billions spent annually toward arresting and prosecuting nearly 800,000 people for marijuana offenses, high school students continue to find marijuana easy to obtain.

By some estimates, as many as 250,000 people die every year from the proper use of prescription drugs. On the other hand, I am not aware of one single death directly caused by marijuana. Yet we pay $25,000 per year to send a drug user to prison, where he will likely have access to the same drugs for which he has been incarcerated.

If we can't keep drugs out of prisons, it is irrational to expect that we can keep them off our streets. It is equally irrational to lock up an individual because of what he chooses to put in his own body.

Drug addiction is not a moral issue. It is a medical problem requiring medical intervention. But if news reports are any indication, it is easy to believe that the rich and famous go to rehab while the poor go to jail. This disparity is the real moral issue.

Dallas News

Tim Masters - 6 Months Later

His new life: traveling, eBay, even gas prices


In the six months after his release from prison, Tim Masters traveled Europe, visited friends and family across this country, got a new apartment in Greeley, acquired a car - three, actually - and started figuring out what he wants to do for a living.

He's repeatedly been interviewed by reporters, had his picture taken innumerable times, and finds that people who recognize him on the street more often than not give him a thumbs-up.

Oh, and like you, he's worried about high gas prices.

"They're killing me," Masters said this week over lunch at a Greeley restaurant. "It costs so much to fill up."

Until Jan. 22, Masters, 35, hadn't worried much about gas prices. The only places he traveled were court, jail and prison in the back of a sheriff's van. He said he still gets a little lurch in his stomach driving up Interstate 25 near the Prospect Road exit, which deputies took when delivering him to county jail on Midpoint Drive.

Until Jan. 22, Masters stood convicted of murdering Peggy Hettrick when he was 15. He was convicted by a jury in 1999 and sent to prison.

Not exonerated

But on Jan. 22, a judge overturned his conviction and vacated his life sentence in light of new DNA evidence pointing to a new suspect. While charges against Masters have been dropped, he has not been formally exonerated.

That's been causing problems for Masters, who spent eight years in the Navy as an aircraft mechanic between his high school graduation and his arrest in 1998.

While he'd like to work as an aircraft mechanic again, Masters says he's worried about having to explain a nearly 10-year blank spot on his resume.

And besides, he's had enough of answering to other people - first his father, then the military, then prison guards.

"I don't want to work for someone else right now," he said.

Being his own boss

That's led to a burgeoning interest in attending auctions and selling stuff online. Masters has been going to car auctions - he ended up with an older Saturn - along with sales at storage-unit lockers.

On Thursday, Masters joined a group of about 20 bidding on six lockers at the Stor Mor in Fort Collins, his uncle Elmer Schneider in tow.

Masters said he tends to avoid Fort Collins, especially if he's driving. He continues to view the local police with a skeptical eye.

The Coloradoan

Sunday, July 20, 2008

New Study On Crime and Grafitti Correlation

Talk to Noah Fritz about the most minuscule of spray-painted initials on a garbage lid and he begins the psychological breakdown of what it all means.

"This to me is the equivalent of a vanity plate," said the criminology professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver, clicking through a graffiti slide show that his students put together on his computer. "What are they trying to tell us? What is the essence of this?"

Fritz and his students have spent a year studying and mapping graffiti in 180 census blocks throughout the city. They hope to see if there is any correlation between graffiti and street crime, and whether simply painting over the marks is an effective way to counter it.

Denver will spend $1.2 million in 2008 on graffiti removal, and officials say they will step up efforts downtown to remove graffiti in preparation for 50,000 visitors coming for the Democratic National Convention.

Fritz, a former crime analyst at an Arizona police department, will be the first one to say he doesn't have all the answers.

He knows that graffiti in Denver runs the gamut from obvious gang communication to the artful mural on the back of the garage. He knows that graffiti here, and probably nationally, is largely misunderstood and that painting over it sometimes dares the taggers into a cat-and-mouse game.

What he hopes to probe — with the help of his criminology students — is: how graffiti in a neighborhood correlates to crime (he'll layer graffiti-defacing maps over crime data); why do kids do it (he'll interview 18-year-olds who may know taggers and compile personal stories) and whether there's anything the city can do about it (a communal graffiti wall? A celebration of graffiti as art?) that would deter taggers from defacing private property.

The Denver Post

Denver Unveils Drug Strategy

It is so vital that this has finally happened here in Denver. It's a huge step in the right direction.
There will be a lot of work to do around implementation and getting the word out to the people who need to be able to access this opportunity. At least now the opportunity exists.

Denver resident Scott Ammon says the Stout Street Foundation rehabilitation center saved his life.

“From the moment that I walked through the doors of the Stout Street Foundation, I felt love and compassion from the staff and residents pour onto me,” he said. “I was physically and mentally tormented by my views of myself and of my world. Not knowing what to expect, I quickly found out how much understanding other people with addictions had for what I had been going through.”

A new five-year Denver Drug Strategy Plan — officially unveiled last night at Cableland, the mayor’s official residence — aims to bring similar treatment services to the estimated 1,300 drug-ladened people in the city who crave rehabilitation services. These people are unable to find the services they desire because of a lack of capacity in the city’s current treatment system. Denver has 74 licensed substance abuse treatment programs. About 5,295 people are receiving treatment at these facilities, but an additional 1,304 people are seeking services that they cannot find because of a lack of resources, according to a recent report issued by the Denver Drug Strategy Commission, which cited statistics from 2006.

1 in 10 have substance abuse problem?

Of Denverites 12 years of age and older, 53,600 people report dependencies on drugs or alcohol — the entire Denver 12 and older population is 487,274, as of 2006. Slightly more than one in 10 individuals 12 years and older in Denver has a substance abuse problem.

Last year, 9 percent of the Denver population reported being addicted to alcohol and 3 percent of the population reported being addicted to drugs, according to the Denver Drug Strategy Commission report. Denver has a greater problem than the rest of the state in the areas of cocaine and heroin. There’s also a much higher arrest rate for narcotic violations than the rest of the state and methamphetamine treatment cases in Denver have increased three times from 2000 to 2005 — the rate of emergency room visits for meth more than doubled from 2004 to 2005.

Taking a toll

Drug Strategy officials point out that drug and alcohol abuse takes its toll on the community, not just on a social level, but economically as well. The cost of unaddressed substance abuse issues in Denver exceeds $600 million annually.

The drug plan includes six goals, including treatment, prevention and intervention, integration of services, education, research and an overall evaluation.

Officials with the Department of Human Services admit that finding the resources to achieve the goals of the plan will be difficult. But after developing the plan and targeting specific areas of need, planners are optimistic that federal and state grants will be made available to see the plan through.

Denver Drug Strategy Commission Chair Jamie Van Leeuwen and Director Karla Maraccini said three surveys will also help to identify direction for obtaining resources and funding.

“The surveys are so important so that we can make thoughtful decisions,” said Maraccini. “We want to make sure that the data drives the decisions.”

Including Healthy Kids Colorado surveys that already take place, the plan calls for drug prevalence and community perception surveys.

Most costly goal — treatment

The most costly goal falls in the area of treatment. One of the plan’s objectives calls for at least $500,000 to provide treatment capacity for an additional 270 people every year for five years.
The plan also calls for a community-wide effort to prevent the onset of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as educational campaigns through public service announcements and other educational tools.

After 18 months of planning, which included 28 members of the community sitting on the Denver Drug Strategy Commission, officials believe they have a plan that can work. But as the president of Denver-based Advocates for Recovery pointed out, it will take a community-wide effort to see the plan through.

“No one says, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a drug addict,’” said Tonya Wheeler. “We must teach our community that addiction is not a choice that people make, but that it is a disease that has treatment and a solution.”

Denver Daily News

Cocaine Cheaper Because Of Meth Crackdown

Nearly anyone these days can recognize the hollowed-out features, skinny limbs and pockmarked skin that characterize someone hooked on methamphetamine, thanks in part to intensive local education campaigns.

It’s precisely that education, coupled with a crackdown on meth users and dealers that has helped get pounds of meth off local streets, law enforcement officials report.

Yet, like any supply-and-demand equation, that is causing a decrease in the amount of the locally available drug, lowering its quality and making it more expensive. That shift has tipped the scales in the drug-buying business, now making cocaine relatively less expensive and more likely to be discovered by undercover officers in drug raids, according to spokeswoman Karen Flowers, resident agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Grand Junction.

“It’s cheaper to buy cocaine,” she said. “If you have an addiction, you want to do what it takes to stimulate that high. Cocaine is the closest thing (next to meth) that’s readily available.”

Current rates for a gram of meth, which is enough of the drug to last some addicts for about a week, is about $150 to $180, depending on the quality, said Lt. David Holdren of the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department. Cocaine, in contrast, is being sold for about $120 a gram, he said.

From January to June of this year, officers with the Western Colorado Drug Task Force have confiscated 19 pounds of cocaine and 27 1/2 pounds of meth.

But a relative break on the price of cocaine poses another problem for law enforcement, Flowers said.

Unlike meth, cocaine is viewed as a stylish drug, more commonly associated with a glamorous lifestyle. Cocaine use is not accompanied by many of the trademark signs of deterioration of a user’s physique, and users aren’t as likely to experience the paranoia and sometimes the violence that accompanies meth use, Flowers said.

Grand Junction Sentinel

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Globeville Upset About Sex Offenders At Shelter

It's better to know where people are. If you start taking away the only place that homeless people have because of their criminal record, they will go underground. That does not serve public safety.

Globeville residents are up in arms after discovering that nearly 100 registered sex offenders are listing a nearby homeless shelter as their address.

The large concentration of men with myriad sex crimes on their records is only half of their worry.

Another 62 men the registry identifies as "whereabouts unknown" listed the Salvation Army Crossroads Shelter as their home.

The city's online registry is driving some of the fear.

Police said the number of unaccounted registered sex offenders from the shelter just north of downtown is cumulative and that about 15 are currently missing.

But the damage is done.

"We're concerned about where everybody is located," said Paulette Hirsh, president of the Globeville Civic Association No. 1.

"We have a whole bunch that are supposed to be registered there," but their whereabouts are unknown, she said.

Salvation Army Major Neal Hogan is also disputing the number of registered sex offenders that the city's registry identifies as currently living at the shelter, 1901 29th St., though police insist that number is accurate.

"Every time we have reviewed our numbers, we only have at any one time between 30 and 40," Hogan said. "Currently, we only have 30 registered sex offenders."

Rocky Mountain News

NORA Is Proposition 5!

The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act—the most ambitious sentencing and prison reform in U.S. history—just got its proposition number. The measure, sponsored by DPA Network, will appear as Proposition 5 on the California state ballot in November!

The campaign to pass Prop. 5 is building momentum. A range of important groups, including the California Society of Addiction Medicine, the Mental Health Association in California, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the League of Women Voters of California, and the California Democratic Party have endorsed the measure that would implement common-sense solutions to prison overcrowding.

High-profile individuals such as Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, retired warden of San Quentin Jeanne Woodford, Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray, former Police Chief Norm Stamper, and former Probation Chief of San Luis Obispo County, John Lum, have also endorsed Prop. 5.

Support is building across the political spectrum because Prop. 5 will protect public safety and save taxpayers billions of dollars by safely shrinking the size of the nonviolent prison population by tens of thousands within just a few years.

Through Prop. 5, California voters can stop letting addiction drive incarceration in California, stop letting young people with drug problems become adult drug offenders, stop letting petty marijuana possession waste court resources and start saving taxpayers $2.5 billion in just a few years.

Through Prop. 5, young people would have access to treatment for the first time in the state.

Through Prop. 5, tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders would get access to treatment-instead-of-incarceration and rehabilitation programs—a change that would dramatically reduce the number of people locked up unnecessarily and decrease the likelihood of recidivism.

Through Prop. 5, low-level marijuana possession would become an infraction—like a traffic ticket—rather than a misdemeanor, conserving millions of dollars in court resources for more serious cases and saving 40,000 people a year from the life-long burden of a misdemeanor conviction.

Now that NORA is Proposition 5, we are ramping up the campaign. Please become a supporter!

If you would like to get involved, sign up for weekly email updates by emailing the campaign, check out our website, and join our cause on Facebook (Yes on Prop 5!).

Drug Policy Alliance

Weld County ADA Pleads Guilty

— The Weld County assistant district attorney has pleaded guilty to driving while ability impaired, and is now on supervised probation.

Michael Rourke will be required to complete 24 hours of public service during the next four months, and pay an alcohol evaluation fee of $200.

A Colorado State Patrol trooper stopped Rourke along Interstate 25 for speeding on May 1. A breathalyzer test revealed a reading of .07, just below the state's legal limit for driving under the influence.

Rourke was charged with driving while ability impaired.

He was suspended 30 days, but was reinstated to his position Wednesday.

The Larimer County district attorney's office says the case will be dismissed in a year if Rourke complies with all of the terms of his probation.

Rocky Mountain News

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Compassionate Release Denied For Susan Atkins

A follower of Charles Manson who stabbed pregnant actress Sharon Tate to death nearly 40 years ago but is dying of brain cancer in a California prison was denied compassionate release Tuesday.

The California Board of Parole released its unanimous decision on the release of Susan Atkins hours after a 90-minute hearing, during which it heard impassioned pleas from both sides.

"Obviously, it was too hot of a potato for them to handle," said one of Atkins' attorney, Eric P. Lampel. "Of course we're disappointed. There's no basis for denying this."

Lampel filed a motion July 10 with Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge David Wesley asking for his client's release no matter what the parole board recommended. No hearing has been set, Lampel said after the hearing.

"We're going to be able to make the case in court. We'll take it to the next step," he said after being informed of the board's decision by The Associated Press.

Atkins' doctors and officials at the women's prison in Corona made the request in March because of her deteriorating health. She also has had her left leg amputated and is paralyzed on her right side, her husband, James Whitehouse, told the California Board of Parole Hearings
AP Story

CCJRC In The News: Getting Out of Prison and Into a Job

Clayton Smalls has come a long way since he was holding up tellers behind bank counters.

Today he works as a deli man behind the counter of a Fairway Market in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Smalls, 49, who got out of prison in October 2007 after serving 17 months for selling marijuana, has spent most of his life in and out of jail for everything from robbery to drug dealing.

But he's finally ready to change his life, and the job he landed -- thanks to help from America Works, an employment agency that trains and finds jobs for hard-to-place candidates like ex-cons and welfare recipients -- has gone a long way in motivating him.

"I get to work every day an hour early," he says proudly. "The store manager has high hopes for me. He's teaching me how to cut salmon."

"This job is the most important thing in my life," he adds.

There's a growing desire in this country to get ex-offenders jobs as a way to keep them out of jail. The federal government and some municipalities are doing what they can to help parolees get job training and offering employers incentives to hire former prisoners, spurred by skyrocketing incarceration costs and exploding prison populations.

"Acquiring employment is crucial," says Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill. "If they don't get employment, many of these individuals will be back on the corner hollering 'crack and blow.' "

That's part of the reason Davis co-sponsored the Second Chance Act, a bipartisan bill President Bush signed into law in May 2008 authorizing $165 million annually for a host of initiatives to curb recidivism, including money to train ex-offenders for jobs. (About 700,000 people are released from prisons every year, and about two-thirds of those are expected to be back in prison within three years, according to the Department of Justice.)

The federal government already offers employers a tax incentive of $2,400 to hire parolees, and some municipalities are following suit. Last month, the City of Philadelphia announced a program offering employers in the city a $10,000 tax incentive for every ex-offender they hire.

Read More At MSN Careerbuilder

DOC June Population Reports

June Population Reports

Eagle County Jailers Make Time For Prisoners

EAGLE, Colorado — Andrew Vigil, Leadville native, was tired of working construction. He didn’t want to work outside in the cold and in the snow anymore. He had been doing it for 10 years. So, when Vigil saw the jail deputy job posting in the newspaper, he was interested.

That was six and a half years ago.

“I didn’t know what I was getting into at the time. It is a lot different than what I expected,” Vigil says. “It is a lot more responsibility than I thought it would be. You need to be patient to do the job and you need to be able to multi-task.”

Vail Daily

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Get Tough Policies Cause More Crime

U.S. taxpayers spend at least $60 billion a year on a growing body of state and federal prisons, county jails and local lockups. With jail and prison populations that have increased nearly eightfold over the past 35 years, the United States has become the world's leading jailer.


More than one in every 100 U.S. adults is locked up -- and 5 million more are on probation or parole. At any given time, one in 32 adults is under the supervision of the criminal justice system.

Tough-on-crime policies, not increases in crime, are mostly responsible. Mandatory drug sentences, three-strike and so-called truth-in-sentencing laws, as well as high recidivism rates, have created our Incarceration Nation. Even so, violent crime rates are higher than when the nation's prison building boom started more than three decades ago.

It's time to reverse failed sentencing policies, restore certain social and legal rights for ex-felons, and slow the revolving doors of the penal system with better re-entry, education and training programs. Fully funding the Second Chance Act, which provides money for state and federal re-entry programs, would keep more ex-inmates out of prison.

Criminal justice reforms are critical to the health of the nation's cities, and they must become part of the next president's urban agenda. Most of the more than 600,000 people a year leaving U.S. prisons and jails return to disadvantaged urban neighborhoods. They go home poorly educated, lacking job skills, and socially and legally disabled by felony records.

Going to prison has become a norm in certain big-city neighborhoods, even a rite of passage. While mass incarceration has aimed to reduce crime, it has actually increased it by breaking up social networks and removing financial and emotional support from families and communities. Nearly half of the 2.3 million adults locked up are African Americans, who make up less than 13% of the U.S. population. A stunning one in nine black males between the ages of 20-34 is behind bars.

Felony convictions, whether or not they carried prison sentences, attach lifetime penalities to tens of millions of Americans. Roughly 1.8 million people in Michigan, for example, have criminal records, or nearly one in four adults. Most are felony offenders, with all that entails for future prospects. These staggering statistics hold true for the nation as a whole, with more than 55 million people with criminal records.

Read More at The Free Press

Friday, July 11, 2008

Critical Resistance 10

To celebrate 10 years of Critical Resistance, thousands will converge once more, September 26-28, 2008, in Oakland, California, for CR10, a 10th Anniversary Celebration and Strategy Session.

In September 1998, thousands gathered in Berkeley, California, for conference that founded Critical Resistance’s movement to abolish the prison industrial complex (PIC). Each participant, with their own experiences of oppression and resistance, watched as diverse struggles were unified: by humanity, hope, and the shared vision of a different world. We witnessed a vision of a world with truly safe, healthy, and whole communities; a world with unconditional access to self-determination and dignity for all; and, critically, a world without imprisonment, policing, and other forms of punishment and control.

Over the past decade, the movement to eliminate the PIC has faced tremendous challenges. We have witnessed rising levels of imprisonment in the US and around the world. We have endured passage of the USAPATRIOT Act of 2001, the Military Commissions Act of 2006, increasing surveillance and policing in our lives. Meanwhile, US-led wars continue to ravage communities around the globe. We have witnessed the increased repression and criminalization of migrants and immigrants, people of color, young people, and queer communities. We have seen California prepare to embark on the biggest prison building project in history as the Gulf Coast region continues to struggle and to prevail in spite of ongoing neglect and militarization.

During this period Critical Resistance has also developed into a leading force fighting against the use of imprisonment, policing, and surveillance as responses to social, economic, and political problems. During the past 10 years we have:

  • Brought the idea of the prison industrial complex (PIC) into mainstream conversations;
  • Substantially increased collaboration of PIC abolitionists with organizers in environmental justice, anti-violence, and queer movements;
  • Promoted prisoners, former prisoners, and their loved ones as the real experts on the system;
  • Provided a platform and jumping off point for new organizations and organizing efforts; and
  • Contributed to dozens of local and regional victories across the country.

We have seen only the beginning of what we can accomplish together. CR10 promises to propel this momentum forward, with united, strategic force. Through workshops, skill shares, performances, action, reflection and celebration, CR10 aims to reunite our voices, reinvigorate our collective refusal to be silenced and strengthen our collective will to build a world without walls.
Register Today

Too Many Prisoners: States Should Stop Warehousing Prisoners

Washington Post editorial h/t to Doc Berman for this great catch.

TWO REPORTS by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics show that the rate of growth in the prison and jail populations of the United States has slowed slightly but that the country still has the dubious distinction of being the largest jailer in the world. As of June 30, 2007, the country held roughly 2.3 million people behind bars, either in local or state jails or in federal prisons.

The cost of housing and caring for inmates has been astronomical, an estimated $55 billion annual expense for taxpayers, according to the Pew Center on the States. The bloated number of inmates has been particularly painful for states, some of which have been forced to cut spending for higher education to fund corrections programs. As a result, California is considering an overhaul of its prison policies, as are Kentucky, Mississippi, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

This fiscal crisis should be a wake-up call for all states. Tough sentences for murder, rape and the like are unquestionably necessary and contributed to a drop in such crimes over the past two decades. But prisons should be focused on holding the most dangerous criminals rather than on warehousing nonviolent, first-time offenders.

Mother Jones July/August Special and After Prison: A Special Issue on Incarcerated America

Please check out this month's copy of Mother Jones: You can subscribe through this link or just go out and get the magazine

Inside America's broken—and broke—prison system

Subscribe to read this content now. Welcome to the Age of Incarceration Welcome to the Age of Incarceration
We are locking up 1 in every 100 American adults—and going bankrupt in the process.

Subscribe to read this content now. California's convict crisis Worst of the Worst
California's convict crisis

Subscribe to read this content now. A guard's change of heart Taming of the Screws
A guard's change of heart

Subscribe to read this content now. The booming immigrant detention industry Texas Hold 'Em
The booming immigrant detention industry

Subscribe to read this content now. Probation for Profit Probation for Profit
In Georgia's outsourced justice system, a traffic ticket can land you deep in the hole.

Subscribe to read this content now. Kids doing time for tantrums Hard Time Out
Kids doing time for tantrums

Subscribe to read this content now. Prison problems? Not in Kansas anymore. The Shawnee Redemption
Prison problems? Not in Kansas anymore.

Much thanks to Real Cost of Prisons for pointing out this series of articles in the Boston Review


Reversing mass imprisonment
Bruce Western

"To be young, black, and unschooled today is to risk a felony conviction, prison time, and a life of second-class citizenship. In this sense, the prison boom has produced mass incarceration—a level of imprisonment so vast and concentrated that it forges the collective experience of an entire social group."

Guarded Hope

Learning from the prison boom
Robert Perkinson

"If racially skewed prison warehousing represents the latest incarnation of American racism, then political mobilization and social transformation on the scale of the civil rights movement may be necessary to dislodge it."

No Further Harm

What we owe to incarcerated fathers
Mary F. Katzenstein and Mary L. Shanley

"The recognition and encouragement of fatherhood behind bars is a vital step in maintaining and fostering the interrelated—indeed, inseparable—commitments of both intimate and civic life."
The Boston Review