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.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Early Release Program Could Increase Public Safety

Greeley Tribune
Colorado Department of Corrections director Ari Zavaras defended a plan Saturday to reduce prison costs by releasing some prisoners up for parole early.

“We didn't just decide, you know we've got the budget crisis, we've got to save some buck,” he said. “The goal of this is increased public safety. Not only do I not think this is not a public safety risk, I think we're going to increase it, and I think the research has shown that.”

Zavaras — a longtime law enforcement official and former Denver police chief — spoke at a community forum hosted by Rep. Jim Riesberg, D-Greeley, at the Evans Community Complex. He said some of the revenue saved by the early release program will go to increased monitoring of those on parole and programs to help the prisoners adjust back into society after leaving prison.

More than 50 people, including Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner attended the forum. Garner and Cooke expressed concerns about the plan.

Zavaras told the crowd that since its beginnings in September, only about 12 prisoners have been released early into the northern Colorado region. The early release program — officially known as accelerated release to parole — was announced in August. It is part of the effort to close the state's budget gap this year. The program allows the parole board to release prisoners who are within six months of release early.

The program was initially projected to save $19 million. Karl Spieker, the chief financial officer for the Department of Corrections said that because early releases have been slower than projected, it's too early to tell how much exactly the program will actually save. He said it costs about $20,000 a year to house a prisoner for a year.

Zavaras said that while the first objective of the plan is to improve public safety by giving paroled prisoners a better chance to return to their community without falling back into criminal activity, the budget savings also are important.


Anonymous said...

has it ever occurred to anyone the message mandatory parole sends to an offender. Last month I heard one of our state representatives refer to parole as a "privilege" when the truth of the matter is that at one time parole was a form of punishment for those offenders that continually violated rules while incarcerated. The message mandatory parole sends out to offenders is "I have a two year sentence with a four year tail I can do whatever I want as long as I don't catch a case while I'm locked up and they have to let me out!"..... where exactly is this so called privilege of being on parole. The only people our politicians are fooling is the community. WAKE UP COLORADO!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonomous, Colorado needs to wake up. There is a movement that will probably sue the legislature if they donnot address the problem now. Mandatory parole as implemented by people like Penry is unconstitutional. Its a pretty bad shock for an inmate to find out there going to have to serve there sentence twice.djw