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, March 31, 2009

Shrinking Budgets May Release Some Inmates

If there was one moment that summed up the very peak of the country's get-tough-on-crime movement, criminologists say it was the 1988 Willie Horton campaign ad.

"Bush and Dukakis on crime," says a deep-throated male voice. "Bush supports the death penalty for first-degree murderers. Dukakis not only opposes the death penalty, he allowed first-degree murderers to have weekend passes from prison. One was Willie Horton."

The ad goes on to describe how Horton attacked a couple while on a weekend pass, stabbing the man and raping the woman, before concluding: "Weekend prison passes — Dukakis on crime."

Michael Dukakis' presidential campaign never recovered. Nor did those of other candidates dubbed soft on criminals. The country was consumed by a national crime wave, fueled by the crack epidemic and gang warfare. Politicians — and voters — pushed for harsher penalties and longer sentences.

Now, 20 years later, 1 in 31 adults in this country is either behind bars or on probation or parole. It's the highest incarceration rate in the nation's history. With the economy in trouble, many states are taking a fresh look at who's in prison, and why. And some states, such as Kentucky, are finding that they can no longer afford to house so many inmates.