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.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rehap Programs Cut Prisons Do less To Keep Prisoners From Returning

Gina Tatum spends her days in a compound surrounded by electrified fence in the sun-baked heart of the Central Valley, hoping to change her life.

She will soon turn 50, and after two decades in and out of prison, she says she is tired of victimizing others, tired of stealing, tired of doing drugs.

"I can't afford any more years up here -- I've lost too many," said Tatum, who is serving a four-year stint for forgery at the Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla. "I'm trying to learn things to change my thinking, change everything about me, so I can go home. It's so easy to get caught up here and never leave. I don't want to die in prison."

But because of cuts in the state budget, Tatum and thousands of other inmates and parolees in California are about to lose access to many of the programs the prison system has offered to help them turn their lives around.

Officials plan to chop $250 million a year from rehabilitation services, more than 40% of what the state now devotes to them and a quarter of the $1 billion it is slicing from its prison system.

The cuts occur four years after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger persuaded lawmakers to change the name of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

"We don't want to just put the name on it," he said in 2007, proposing to expand rehabilitation services for prisoners. "We have to heal them. We have to get them ready to go out so they can get a job, connect with society and never commit a crime again."

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