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.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Colorado Panel Eyes Sentencing Reform

State Bill News
DENVER — After some fireworks earlier this year, Colorado’s Sentencing Policy Task Force has begun meetings to tackle ways to reduce recidivism. The 23-person task force was spawned from Senate Bill 286, which proposed sweeping reform to sentencing guidelines.
When the bill was introduced, district attorneys in this year’s legislative session were irked, and complained the proposal had not been properly vetted. Among other details, the bill proposed to lower penalties for nonviolent property and drug offenses, including eliminating jail time.
The bill, brought late in the session, ultimately died when the interested parties agreed to spend a portion of the summer hammering out legislative recommendations that both sides can live with.
Colorado’s Public Defender Doug Wilson is participating on the task force, as is Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, and four Colorado district attorneys representing both sides of the political aisle. Many others, with vast and varied areas of expertise in the subject, are also represented.
“The Senate Bill 286 approach is what we’re all trying to avoid,” said Boulder DA Stan Garnett, who is also participating.

Target dates for completion
So far the task force, which is a subcommittee of Colorado’s Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, has met three times. Splitting into subgroups, members shave been delving into topics ranging from specific sentencing guidelines, including driving with a suspended license and the penalties for escaping from halfway houses.
The group plans to meet regularly through the fall, with the target date of Oct. 9 to present preliminary recommendations, and then present a rough draft to the full commission on Nov. 13. The commission will vote in December on recommended legislation that will be formally presented to legislators for consideration.
Public Defender Wilson identified mandatory minimum sentences as one area in need of review. It’s problematic, he says, when judges have no discretion when meting out sentences. He cites, by way of example, minimum mandatory sentences for assault on a police officer, which currently nets at least five years in jail.
“I’m not suggesting people should hit cops, but if I punch someone and he says ‘ouch’ that [is] a misdemeanor,” Wilson said. According to current sentencing requirements, “If you have a badge on, I have to do five years in prison, and there is no judicial discretion.”

What’s working, what’s not
Mandatory minimums drive up prison costs, Wilson notes, drawing agreement from defense attorney Lee Foreman.
“The bottom line is the state can’t afford to unnecessarily incarcerate people when it doesn’t do much to advance public safety,” Foreman said.


Anonymous said...

Along with sentencing reform, Colorado needs to end mandatory parole. After an inmate serves his or her full sentence, that should be the end of it. Requiring another couple of years of mandatory parole is over and above the complete sentence! That would save the State of Colorado millions of dollars!

Anonymous said...


FINALLY! There are two people who have my deepest respects.

PD Wilson and Mr. Lee Foreman should be head of CCJJ. They comprehend the liabilities and have reasonable solutions; not only for economic purposes, but also the uncontitutional practices some of those in CCJJ advocate.

I hope these amazing gentlemen have some clout and are able to reach beyond the pro-mandatory minimum and pro-incarceration mentalities.

Sirs, (Wilson and Foreman), you are worthy of taking positions in CCJJ that require your much needed sensible solutions! Salute!

Anonymous said...

you can never reform anything regarding sentencing, as long as you have DA's, and people loke Suther leading there irresponsible tough on crime crap. As far as mandatory parole its plain unconstitutional. Called double jeopardy. djw

Anonymous said...

not only is it mandatory parole its also house arrest i was placed on a ankle monitor on my mandatory release date for a non violent property crime my sentence was only 10 months with 2 yrs mandatory parole so not only was my parole more than twice my sentence i had to wear an ankle monitor so i was returned back to prison for drinkin alcohol where i spent 18 months day for day was not even eligble for goodtime i spent those 18 months report free