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.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Inmate killed in Canon City - The Denver Post

Inmate killed in Canon City - The Denver Post

CANON CITY, Colo.—An inmate at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility has been killed, reportedly at the hands of another inmate.

The Colorado Department of Corrections reports that 34-year-old James Schneider was killed early Thursday by another inmate. Schneider was serving a three-year sentence at the medium-security prison for forgery and escape.

Katherine Sanguinetti, a spokeswoman for the department, says a male inmate murdered Schneider but declined to elaborate on the cause of death. An autposy was expected Friday in Fremont County.

Sanguinetti says the suspected killer has been segregated from the rest of the prison population, but his name has no been announced.

Read more: Inmate killed in Canon City - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16982721#ixzz19k3t70Ni
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sister's kidney donation condition of Miss. parole - The Denver Post

Sister's kidney donation condition of Miss. parole - The Denver Post

JACKSON, Miss.—For 16 years, sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott have shared a life behind bars for their part in an $11 armed robbery. To share freedom, they must also share a kidney.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour suspended the sisters' life sentences on Wednesday, but 36-year-old Gladys Scott's release is contingent on her giving a kidney to Jamie, her 38-year-old sister, who requires daily dialysis.

The sisters were convicted in 1994 of leading two men into an ambush in central Mississippi the year before. Three teenagers hit each man in the head with a shotgun and took their wallets—making off with only $11, court records said.

Jamie and Gladys Scott were each convicted of two counts of armed robbery and sentenced to two life sentences.

"I think it's a victory," said the sisters' attorney, Chokwe Lumumba. "I talked to Gladys and she's elated about the news. I'm sure Jamie is, too."

Civil rights advocates have for years called for their release, saying the sentences were excessive. Those demands gained traction when Barbour asked the Mississippi Parole Board to take another look at the case.

The Scott sisters are eligible for parole in 2014, but Barbour said prison officials no longer think they are a threat to society and Jamie's medical condition is costing the state a lot of money.

Lumumba said he has no problem with the governor requiring Gladys to offer up her organ because "Gladys actually volunteered that as part of her petition."

Lumumba said it's not clear what caused the kidney failure, but it's likely a combination of different illnesses over the years.

Barbour spokesman Dan Turner told The Associated Press that Jamie Scott was released because she needs the transplant. He said Gladys Scott will be released if she agrees to donate her kidney because of the significant risk and recovery time.

Read more: Sister's kidney donation condition of Miss. parole - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_16972601?source=rsssimplepiehome#ixzz19bYpnSNE
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Fair Sentencing Clarification Act

Drug Policy Alliance

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced the Fair Sentencing Clarification Act of 2010, which will address a glaring oversight in the Fair Sentencing Act, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and signed into law earlier this year. The Durbin bill greatly reduced the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine, from 100:1 to 18:1, but it does not provide relief to individuals who were serving time for crack cocaine prior to the bill's enactment. 
"The lack of retroactive relief in the Fair Sentencing Act means that thousands of people who were incarcerated for extraordinarily long periods of time for crack law violations before the law was changed are still required to serve their full sentence," said Jasmine L. Tyler, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. "I constantly receive calls from family members, many in tears, asking how they can help get their loved one home soon. Passing this legislation would help reunite families." 
Prior to the passage of the Fair Sentencing Act, possession of five grams of crack cocaine (similar to the weight of a couple of sugar packets) would trigger a five-year federal mandatory minimum sentence. To receive this same punishment for cocaine in powder form, an individual would have to possess 500 grams, despite the pharmacological similarities between the two substances. Four-fifths of those incarcerated in federal prisons for crack cocaine convictions are black, despite the fact that whites and Latinos make up two-thirds of crack cocaine users.
"This unfair sentencing structure meant that individuals convicted on crack cocaine charges served exorbitantly long sentences – and African Americans have disproportionately borne the brunt of the punishment," said Tyler. "It is time to bring home those unfairly languishing behind bars and save taxpayer money by passing this much needed legislation."

Sotomayer protest's court's refusal of appeals

USA Today

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has set herself apart from colleagues with her fervent statements protesting the majority's refusal to take some appeals, particularly involving prisoners.
Each month, the justices spurn hundreds of petitions from people who have lost in lower courts, and rarely does an individual justice go public with concern about the denial. In the seven times it has happened since the annual term opened in October, Justice Sotomayor has signed four of the opinions, more than any other justice. She was the lead author on three, again more than any other justice.
She forcefully dissented when the justices refused to hear the appeal of a Louisiana prisoner who claimed he was punished for not taking his HIV medication. He said prison officials subjected him to hard labor in 100-degree heat. Writing alone, she said the inmate had a persuasive claim of cruel and unusual punishment.
This emerging pattern of dissenting statements helps define a justice in her second term who is still — like newest justice Elena Kagan— fresh in the public eye.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

California prisons: Inmates caged for therapy - latimes.com

California prisons: Inmates caged for therapy - latimes.com

Before group therapy begins for mentally ill maximum-security inmates at California prisons, five patients are led in handcuffs to individual metal cages about the size of a phone booth. Steel mesh and a plastic spit shield separate the patients from the therapist, who sits in front of the enclosures wearing a shank-proof vest.

When the lock clanks shut on the final cage — prison officials prefer to call them "therapeutic modules" — the therapist tries to build the foundation of any successful group: trust.

During a recent session at a prison in Vacaville, psychologist Daniel Tennenbaum, wearing a herringbone sports coat over his body armor, sat just out of urination range of the cages with an acoustic guitar, trying to engage the inmates with a sing-along of "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay."

About a decade ago, a federal judge ruled that it was cruel and unusual punishment to leave mentally ill prisoners in their cells without treatment. Since then, state prisons have spent more than a billion dollars delivering care to an ever-growing population of inmates diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric problems.

State officials say they have not tried to estimate how much of that cost is attributable to the caged therapy. The value of the sessions, however, is the subject of heated debate among mental health professionals today.

"Those cages are an abomination. They train people that they're not human, that they're animals," said Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist in Berkeley who served as an expert witness on treatment of mentally ill prisoners in the case that forced California prisons to provide psychiatric care.

"It's bizarre, it has a Hannibal Lecter quality to it," said H. Steven Moffic, likening California's procedures to the measures used to contain an incarcerated serial killer in "The Silence of the Lambs."

Moffic, a psychiatry professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has written about treating patients in prisons under less imposing restraints. "I'm not quite sure what the clinicians think they are going to get out of it," he said of California's method.

Prison officials say they're doing their best to comply with the court order, which requires them to offer treatment to all mentally ill inmates, no matter how dangerous.

Overall, that care in 2006 cost the state $166 million to treat about 32,000 inmates, department records show. By 2009 the number of inmates had risen modestly to 36,000 but the cost of treatment had more than doubled more than $358 million.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

This Year's Top 10 Domestic Drug Policy Stories

Stop the Drug War
Sentencing Reforms Continue in the States

In a bid to reduce corrections spending, a number of states in the last decade have moved to implement sentencing reforms, and 2010 saw the trend continue. In May, Colorado passed reforms that will reduce some drug use and possession sentences, allow greater judicial flexibility in sentencing, and keep some technical parole violators from being sent back to prison. But the package also increases some drug sales and manufacturing sentences. In June, South Carolina passed reforms that will end mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses. In August, Massachusetts passed reforms that will eliminate some mandatory minimums in a bill that was watered down from an earlier Senate version.  In all three cases, it was not bleeding hearts but bleeding wallets that was the impetus for reform.

A Congressional Drug Warrior Goes Down in Flames

It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. This year is also notable for the spectacular May end to the career of inveterate congressional drug warrior Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN). The doughy cultural conservative crusader from the heartland resigned from Congress after admitting at a press conference to having an affair with a female staffer with whom he had once made abstinence videos. Souder is best known to drug reformers as the author of the "smoke a joint, lose your federal aid" provision of the Higher Education Act, and thus deserves credit for almost singlehandedly causing the formation of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. But his enthusiasm for the war on drugs also led him to the chairmanship of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources from 2001 to 2007, where he used his position to support harsh drug policies. He was, for instance, a staunch foe of medical marijuana and a loud voice against the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendments, which would, if passed, have stopped federal raids on medical marijuana patients and providers. To be fair, Souder did offer committee legislation in 2006 to restrict the reach of his student aid penalty, and he was also a key Republican supporter of the recent "Second Chance" prisoner reentry funding legislation. Still, reformers are happy that one of the staunchest and most active drug warriors is out of Congress now, struck down by his own hypocrisy

Santa Was In Prison and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

Mother Jones
As Christmas is celebrated in Incarceration Nation, it’s worth remembering certain things about the two figures who dominate this holiday.
As more than 3,000 Americans sit on death row, we revere the birth of a godly man who was arrested, “tried,” sentenced, and put to death by the state. The Passion is the story of an execution, and the Stations of the Cross trace the path of a Dead Man Walking.
Less well known is the fact that Saint Nicholas, the early Christian saint who inspired Santa Claus, was once a prisoner, like one in every 100 Americans today. Though he was beloved for his kindness and generosity, Nicholas acquired sainthood not by giving alms, but in part by performing a miracle that more or less amounted to a prison break.
As we described in one of our earliest posts on Solitary Watch, Nicholas was the 4th-century Greek Bishop of Myra (in present-day Turkey). Under the Roman emperor Diocletian, who persecuted Christians, Nicholas spent some five years in prison–and according to some accounts, in solitary confinement.
Under Constantine, the first Christian emperor, Nicholas fared better until the Council of Nicaea, in 325 A.D. There, after having a serious theological argument with another powerful bishop, Nicholas became so enraged that he walked across the room and slapped the man. (CLICK HERE FOR MORE)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Attorneys named to replace 2 northern Colorado judges ousted by voters - KDVR

Attorneys named to replace 2 northern Colorado judges ousted by voters - KDVR

DENVER (AP) — Fort Collins attorneys Julie Field and Stephen Howard have been appointed to replace two state judges who were voted out of office in November.

Voters rejected retaining District Judges Jolene Blair and Terrence Gilmore. They were the prosecutors in a 1999 case in which Timothy Masters was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The state Supreme Court censured Blair and Gilmore in 2008, saying they failed as prosecutors to turn over information to defense attorneys.

Masters' conviction was overturned the same year after new tests showed the DNA evidence failed to put him at the scene and pointed to other suspects. He was released from prison after nearly a decade.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ritter Pardons Anti Gang Activist

Reporter Herald

DENVER (AP) -- Denver anti-gang activist Leon Kelly is among 20 people receiving pardons from Gov. Bill Ritter, who leaves office Jan. 11 after one term.
Ritter, a former Denver district attorney, announced the pardons Wednesday. Until now, Ritter had only pardoned three people during his four years in office.
Ritter's predecessor, Gov. Bill Owens, pardoned 13 people during his eight-year tenure.
Ritter said the latest people to receive pardons have demonstrated great remorse, have made an effort at redeeming themselves and in some cases, are significantly involved in their community.
He pardoned five women and 15 men for felony and misdemeanor offenses dating from 1971 to 1999. The offenses range from marijuana possession to robbery. A pardon restores all rights of citizenship, including the ability to vote, participate in jury duty, hold public office and own guns.
Kelly, executive director of Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives, was pardoned for a 1979 conviction for aggravated robbery for which he served three years in prison.
"It's done," Kelly said in an interview, fighting back tears as he talked about visiting his father's grave to commemorate the occasion. "This is the day I received the pardon from the governor."
Kelly's father died in March.
For nearly three decades, he has worked with at-risk Denver youth to help steer them away from gangs and live productive lives. His personal story of how he began dealing drugs after graduating from the University of Colorado and then getting arrested for a home invasion to collect a drug debt plays a large role in his work.
Kelly has recently begun working on a program to help felons find work after being released from prison.
"I didn't read about this in a book, I didn't hear about this in a story," Kelly said. "I know what it is when I was locked up. The life that goes on behind bars, I've seen it."
The conviction weighed heavily on Kelly, though he said he tried not to think about it. He said his time in prison helped him reflect on his life and prompted him to turn his life around and help others.
"I don't feel like I'm that unique," Kelly said. "If you have a felony, it shouldn't even matter, if you have a right mind to do what you have to do to live a productive life."
Community leaders and prosecutors, including Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, wrote letters in support of Kelly's pardon.
"Leon is an example of somebody who has turned his life around," said Morrissey, who has gotten to know Kelly and his family. "My only disappointment is that his father died before he received this pardon."
In announcing the pardons, Ritter said he carefully reviewed each case and its unique set of circumstances.
"Today's pardon will allow them to move forward as a productive member of the work force, of their community and of society," he said.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Do Not Go Directly To Jail

Te New York Times
PRISON crowding has reached crisis proportions: California’s prisons, the largest state system in the country, operate at almost double their maximum capacity. The conditions there — the legacy of the war on drugs and long, mandatory sentences — are so bad that a federal court has found that they deny inmates constitutional rights to adequate health care and other basic services; the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case last week.
The lower court’s decision requires California to reduce its prison population to about 110,000 inmates from 144,000 by next December. Risks to public safety from releasing that many prisoners will make this almost impossible. But the federal government can take one important step to help states comply: deport many immigrant criminals before they enter prison, not after.
Non-citizen criminals represent a significant percentage of American prisoners: in 2009, some 25 percent of federal prisoners and a smaller fraction of state prisoners were non-citizens; in California, 18,705 inmates were non-citizens. Although the federal government can deport many of them as soon as their criminal convictions become final, a century-old law provides that immigrants can be deported only after they have served their sentences here.
This provision, intended to ensure that the criminals are punished, was enacted in 1917, long before severely crowded prisons were deemed unconstitutional. This was also before legal and budgetary pressures forced prison officials to prematurely release inmates, even those with a significant recidivism risk (in California, as many as 58 percent commit new crimes within three years). Deporting criminal immigrants would make it easier to keep these potential recidivists behind bars.
Fortunately, the law now contains a potentially useful loophole: deportable criminals can be deported without serving their full sentences if they committed non-violent offenses (with some exceptions), and if the appropriate officials request earlier deportations.
As simple as it seems, this exception has rarely been employed. The federal and state governments should use it to remove as many deportable criminals as possible from their prison populations.
This is certainly not a panacea. Not every immigrant prisoner is deportable; it depends on their particular crimes and whether they can obtain a waiver. Also, the immigrants’ home countries might refuse, contrary to international law, to repatriate them, and some treaties require the prisoner’s consent. Even those countries that do accept convicted citizens may not imprison them at all, or not for long. There’s also the prospect that repatriated prisoners, once free, will try to re-enter the United States illegally.
These objections are manageable. Diplomacy, and American cash, might persuade home countries to incarcerate repatriated criminals. The prisoner transfer treaty with Mexico can be renegotiated. And better border enforcement is already reducing re-entries.
Other options are themselves problematic or have already been tried and proved inadequate. It is costly and unpopular to build new prisons and hire more guards; California, amid a severe fiscal crisis, is already spending $9 billion a year on corrections. Easier probation and parole have their limits. Structural changes, like decriminalizing non-violent offenses and reducing the length of sentences, are promising reforms but hard to accomplish politically.
The Supreme Court will, in all likelihood, uphold the lower court’s findings that California’s prison conditions are unconstitutional, but will cut officials some slack in managing the remedy. That gives states and the federal government the room to try new approaches. Accelerating the deportation of criminals who will eventually be deported anyway would not end the overcrowding problem, but it would surely help.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Talking Sentencing Reform

The Denver Daily News

Christy Morris’ brother is in the midst of a 38-year prison term after getting three strikes for drug and burglary related offenses.
Morris, who works for the Denver Women’s Commission, finds it sad that her and her brother grew up in the same family and were given the same opportunities, yet her brother is spending the majority of his life in jail. Morris often thinks about how her brother’s fate could have possibly been prevented if he got treatment for his substance abuse problems after his first arrest instead of being put in jail.
Morris wrote a paper on alternative sentencing and recidivism rates and found that Colorado is rated as the worst U.S. state for having the highest amount of road blocks for people who are coming out of prison and trying to get reestablished back in society. The recidivism rate for Colorado inmates is more than 50 percent, she added.
“If we take that money out of housing (prisoners) and putting it into community assistance programs, that would just keep the costs down and we could have viable citizens rather than having prisoners,” she said.
Morris is hoping that the next Denver mayor will consider sentencing reform and sentencing alternatives as a main priority. Morris is supporting Mayor candidate Doug Linkhart, who has long championed judicial sentencing reform. 
“We’re in a situation where so many people are going to jail and prison for things that would be better handled on the outside,” said Morris.
Linkhart said judicial sentencing reform is a big issue for him because it’s something that would have an immediate and long-term impact on the city’s cash-strapped budget. The Denver jail population has tripled over the past 30 years while the city’s population has only grown by 20 percent. 
Linkhart opposes mandatory sentences because they don’t allow for judicial discretion. He also disagrees with putting people in jail like Marvin Booker, the homeless man arrested for drug paraphernalia who died in jail after an altercation with officers, while medical marijuana is legal.
Linkhart pointed to the 2009 analysis of the five main programs funded by the Crime Prevention and Control Commission — which include Drug Court, court-to-community mental health services and pretrial supervision — that found that the programs combined provide more than a 180-percent return of investment. 
For the $2.3 million that was committed by the commission to the five programs, the city experienced a savings of approximately $6.3 million per year, the report found. A 2010 analysis of the programs is scheduled to be released this week. 

Jail annex
Linkhart believes the city missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime to save money by not postponing the construction of a $25 million jail annex and possibly directing that money elsewhere. The councilman wanted to ask voters — who approved the construction of the annex in 2005 as part of a $378 million plan to also build a new courthouse and jail — if they wanted the city to use that bond money elsewhere.
“We all say prevention works, we all go to the galas, the balls, the luncheons, the yard sales to support these programs,” he said. “But then when it makes a difference we have to have the courage to cut the money that we’ve saved.”

Federal authorities nearing settlement with accused marijuana-grow operations supplier - The Denver Post

Federal authorities nearing settlement with accused marijuana-grow operations supplier - The Denver Post

Federal authorities are close to resolving a years-long investigation into a Front Range hydroponics gardening store owner and a network of basement marijuana grows, according to court records.

Federal prosecutors accuse Corey Inniss, the owner of the Way to Grow chain of hydroponics stores, of supplying growing equipment from his stores to help set up several marijuana cultivation operations in homes from Boulder to Fort Collins.

In exchange for the equipment, Inniss received a cut of the operations' proceeds, according to the documents.

Prosecutors accuse Inniss of taking the money he received from the marijuana operation and depositing it into business accounts for his hydroponics stores.

The court documents state that, between April 2005 and August 2006, Inniss made nearly $1.3 million in cash deposits into two Way to Grow bank accounts.

Authorities launched the investigation in August 2006, and recent filings suggest that the case may soon be resolved.

"The parties continue to be engaged in settlement negotiations and believe that a settlement is eminent as part of a global resolution involving criminal charges as well," federal prosecutors wrote in a Dec. 3 status update filing in one of the forfeiture cases.

Both Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Denver, and Mike Turner, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman, declined to comment on the case.

Jeralyn Merritt, an attorney for Inniss, said in a statement: "Mr. Inniss, Way to Grow and the Government have expended considerable time and effort over the past year to resolve their legal differences. We anticipate a full resolution within the next few months. Way to Grow will continue to operate in full compliance with the law."

The investigation details appear in court documents in two asset forfeiture cases filed in federal District Court in Denver.

Read more: Federal authorities nearing settlement with accused marijuana-grow operations supplier - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_16900473#ixzz18ep4eAbJ
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Seven metro counties work together to offer shelter to homeless on cold winter nights - The Denver Post

Seven metro counties work together to offer shelter to homeless on cold winter nights - The Denver Post

For the first time, all seven counties of metro Denver have banded together to ensure that people who need shelter during severe winter weather will not end up sleeping on the streets.

Despite the increased need — especially in tough economic times — this collaborative network took years to create.

"Seven counties working together is pretty unusual," said Tom Luehrs , executive director of St. Francis Center in Denver, a provider of homeless services.

"There is not necessarily a cooperative effort between county people who are working their own turf and don't want to be told what to do," Luehrs said.

The rising number of homeless in the metro area dwarfs the availability of shelter beds.

During the most recent point-in-time homeless survey, conducted in the Denver metro area Jan. 27, 2009, nearly 1,700 people reported spending the previous night outside on the street, in a car or in an abandoned building.

That night, the low temperatures in the metro area ranged from 3 to 12 degrees.

Currently, there are 37 shelter beds in Jefferson County, which reported 1,242 homeless people in that 2009 survey.

"Of that number, 70 percent were members of families, and 61 percent reported being homeless for that first time," said Linda Barringer, program director at The Family Tree Homelessness Services in Wheat Ridge. "That's huge."

"People don't realize, or understand, the challenges we confront in these suburban counties of Denver," said Virginia Longoria, executive director of ACCESS Housing, which provides homeless services in Adams County.

There about 60 shelter beds in the county.

Read more: Seven metro counties work together to offer shelter to homeless on cold winter nights - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16900806#ixzz18ekMqqoj
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Sunday, December 19, 2010

9NEWS.com | Denver | Colorado's Online News Leader | Sen. Bennet makes good on campaign promise: Family gets dog

9NEWS.com | Denver | Colorado's Online News Leader | Sen. Bennet makes good on campaign promise: Family gets dog
DENVER - Children will forget their shoes, forget
their manners, forget their homework, but they r
arely forget a promise made to them by mom or

This is especially true when dad just happens to be
Senator Michael Bennet. His daughters Caroline,
Halina and Anne were focused on just one thing the
day after the election.

"The only business they wanted to deal with after
the election was getting a dog. That was job number
one and they managed to do it," Bennet said.

Bennet says in many ways his daughters and wife
were more productive than the U.S. Senate, choosing
their dog in just one day without fighting about
which one was best.

The girls and their mom, Susan, found their dog
through the Colorado Cell Dog Program. Dogs
rescued from shelters across statewide are brought
into the Prison Trained Dog Program (PTDP) for
obedience training; including lessons involving

training, crate training, sit, sit-stay, down,
down-stay, come when called, basic heeling on lead
and even a few tricks.

After meeting several dogs, the Bennet girls picked
a small, black, Pomeranian mix. They decided to
name the dog Pepper, because he had lots of pep
and they say his personality was kind of "spicy."

After a few weeks of training, Pepper performed for
Susan and other future dog owners at the Denver
Women's Correctional Facility. His trainer, Christina
Collins explained why it's such a privilege to do this

Griego: Inmates' intimate message to middle-schoolers sealed with a handshake - The Denver Post

Griego: Inmates' intimate message to middle-schoolers sealed with a handshake - The Denver Post

The Denver Women's Correctional Facility houses nearly 1,000 maximum-security inmates.

Six of them arrive at Manny Martinez Middle School around noon on a recent weekday. They are accompanied by two correctional officers and several others, who also provide supervision. The women sit at a table, eating a lunch of fried chicken, waiting to meet the students of this charter school housed inside West High School.

The inmates wear prison greens over yellow T-shirts. Colored paper bands designating the women's housing unit hang from their wrists. The students later will ask a question about the bands. They also will ask: Do you miss your family? What's jail like? Do you remember the pain when you got shot? How did you feel when you did drugs? Have any of your real friends come to see you?

The women will answer the students' questions in a direct fashion, though some of the inquiries appear to cut them to the quick. It's hard to say whether it's the question that makes their eyes well up or the questioners, whom the inmates tell me later remind them of their own children and grandchildren, remind them of themselves before they learned you can pick your choices, but not your consequences.

But before the presentation, the women are nervous. No matter how many groups they talk to as members of the Women Advocating Youth program, they still get nervous. "You want the kids to get something out of it," inmate Stephanie Timothy says. She went to prison at 19 for shooting and killing an ex-boyfriend. She then tried to kill herself. Timothy is 31 now.

"What we're saying is real. It's not acting. This is our life," says Gena Coggins, 43. She's served four years of a 12-year sentence for second-degree burglary.

"I just prayed to God, 'God, if I do anything today, let me reach one person," says 51-year- old Sharee Wilson, who has been in and out of prison since she was 25.

"One person," her fellow inmates echo.

Read more: Griego: Inmates' intimate message to middle-schoolers sealed with a handshake - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/griego/ci_16895141#ixzz18Z7UXH7p
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Aurora cop had hundreds of videos of child porn, Colorado Springs police say - The Denver Post

Aurora cop had hundreds of videos of child porn, Colorado Springs police say - The Denver Post

Morgan Sellman, an Aurora police sergeant arrested Friday on suspicion of possessing hundreds of videos of child pornography depicting victims as young as 2, toted some of the porn in a personal laptop that he brought to work, Colorado Springs police said in an arrest warrant.

The laptop case — obtained from his office — also contained sex toys, police said.

Sellman, 39, who coordinated the department's D.A.R.E. anti- drug program, was arrested in El Paso County and booked into jail on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 3 felony that carries a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison.

He was later released on a $10,000 bond, a jail official said.

There is no evidence that Sellman had illegal contact with children, Colorado Springs police spokesman Sgt. Steve Noblitt said in a news release.

The police Internet Crimes against Children Task Force began investigating Nov. 11 after receiving a tip from a Westminster police officer who found illegal material while probing a publicly accessible file-sharing network, Colorado Springs police Detective Clayton Blackwell said in an arrest affidavit.

Detectives linked some of the material to an Internet account registered to Sellman and his wife, Blackwell said.

Read more: Aurora cop had hundreds of videos of child porn, Colorado Springs police say - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16895284#ixzz18Z6WttsV
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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Aurora police sergeant arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography - The Denver Post

Aurora police sergeant arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography - The Denver Post

An Aurora police sergeant who coordinated the department's anti-drug program for kids has been arrested on suspicion of possession and distribution of child pornography.

Morgan Sellman, 39, of Peyton was arrested Friday and booked at the El Paso County Jail, according to a Colorado Springs Police Department media release.

Sellman, a 14-year veteran with the Aurora Police Department, has been placed on administrative leave with pay, Aurora police said.

The Colorado Springs Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children Unit served a search warrant at Sellman's El Paso County home on Wednesday "and it was at this time that investigators learned that Mr. Sellman is a sergeant with the Aurora Police Department," the release said.

Sellman was not home when the warrant was executed.

Since the search, "additional evidence has been discovered" in the case, police said.

Investigators contacted Aurora police, who have been cooperative, the release said.

"At this point in the investigation there is no evidence to support that Mr. Sellman ever had any personal contact with a victim or used a city of Aurora computer to store images of child pornography," Colorado Spring police said.

In his most recent assignment with Aurora, Sellman served a dual role as the department's quartermaster and the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) coordinator, Aurora police said.

As quartermaster, Sellman oversaw management of the department's purchasing, distribution and the inventory of equipment and uniforms.

Read more: Aurora police sergeant arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16889000#ixzz18VAo92aK
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Deputy getting his chance to talk with Denver officials about son's beating by cops in LoDo - The Denver Post

Deputy getting his chance to talk with Denver officials about son's beating by cops in LoDo - The Denver Post

The Pueblo County sheriff's deputy who was talking to his son by cellphone when Denver police grabbed and beat the young man will meet with Deputy Mayor Bill Vidal about the case.

Deputy Anthony DeHerrera, who had requested the meeting a month ago, said he received a call from Vidal's office Friday and will meet with him as soon as today.

"I'm hoping that in the future if something like this happens that other families won't have to wait this long for resolution," he said Tuesday. "This thing should have been wrapped up in 90 days."

DeHerrera's son Michael was speaking to him by cellphone on April 4, 2009, when Officer Devin Sparks grabbed Michael and hurled him to the ground. The incident was captured on videotape. A charge of resisting arrest was later dismissed against Michael DeHerrera.

Denver's former manager of safety determined the beating did not represent excessive force but docked Sparks and Cpl. Randy Murr three days' pay each for filing inaccurate reports.

A furor caused by the manager's decision led to his resignation. After Mayor John Hickenlooper invited the FBI to examine the case, the Police Department reopened an internal investigation in August, hoping to speak with two witnesses who told 9News that Michael DeHerrera did nothing to provoke his mistreatment. The FBI dropped its participation after the case was reopened.

Anthony DeHerrera said he has been calling Denver police and the mayor's office every week to learn how the case is progressing.

Read more: Deputy getting his chance to talk with Denver officials about son's beating by cops in LoDo - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16870456#ixzz18HS3mjQ8
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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Prisoners' protest over. For now.  | ajc.com

Prisoners' protest over. For now. | ajc.com

The prison system began lifting lock downs at four institutions and returning the facilities to normal operations Wednesday and inmate said they were ending their protest for now and reporting to work assignments.

One of the organizers of the protest said prisoners are still going to pursue their concerns. If the Department of Corrections ignores their requests, the next protest will be violent, he said.

Prison officials did not say what led to the decision to end the lock downs that had been in place since last Thursday. But an inmate at Smith State Prison in Glenville said in a telephone interview prisoners had agreed to end their “non-violent” protest to allow administrators time to focus on their concerns rather than operating the institutions without inmate labor.

“We’ve ended the protest,” said Mike, a convicted armed robber who was one of the inmates who planned and coordinated the work stoppage. “We needed to come off lock down so we can go to the law library and start ... the paperwork for a [prison conditions] lawsuit.

“We’re just giving them time to … meet our requests without having to worry about us on lock down,” Mike told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday.

Mike is one of the inmates who organized the protest at Smith prison who has talked to the AJC about it. He did not want his last name published for fear of retaliation from prison officials, but agreed to allow the AJC to verify his prisoner identification number, which the paper then cross-checked with the Department of Corrections website.

Johnson: Former inmate makes a break from his prison - The Denver Post

Johnson: Former inmate makes a break from his prison - The Denver Post

Maybe this is a story of rehabilitation and redemption, how even if it takes some 50 years to arrive, all that matters is that it does.

It began a couple of days ago when I was fooling around on the computer, idly looking up things about my father, as I sometimes do.

He has been gone 30 years, so it surprised me to see he will be inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame next month, along with Johnny Cash and several others.

Knowing little of Johnny Cash — yeah, I know — I Googled him and read entire stories, including those on his prison concerts, mostly the celebrated one at Folsom Prison in California.

The next day, the telephone rang.

"I was a prisoner during that Johnny Cash concert at Folsom," the man on the other end told me, hoping it might make for a column. "The anniversary of it is next month, you know. And there are not a whole lot of us left."

Maybe it was serendipity. I know it was just plain spooky. Was I somehow supposed to visit this man?

The next day I found myself sitting in the tiny south Denver apartment of Jack Gordon. We talked for three hours.

He is a character. He was a pool shark (he pulls a 1970s article about him), a professional golfer (more articles), a certified art picture framer and an artist.

His apartment walls are filled with his work — oils, pencil, watercolors, all of it beautiful and masterful. Dominating the room is a canvas of his latest piece, a snow scene, propped on a wooden easel.

Read more: Johnson: Former inmate makes a break from his prison - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/billjohnson/ci_16860772#ixzz18Bkl4mcA
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Adams commissioners ban medical marijuana shops - The Denver Post

Adams commissioners ban medical marijuana shops - The Denver Post

The medical-marijuana industry has been booted almost entirely from Adams County, after the board of commissioners voted to ban such businesses in unincorporated parts of the county.

In their vote last week, the commissioners made Adams County the 26th county to ban medical-marijuana businesses in their unincorporated areas, according to the county government association Colorado Counties Inc. At least 47 municipalities have also banned the businesses, according to the Colorado Municipal League. In Adams County, only Northglenn currently allows for them.

Read more: Adams commissioners ban medical marijuana shops - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16859879#ixzz189VDoHqk
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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Editorial: Cutting corners on justice? Guilty - The Denver Post

Editorial: Cutting corners on justice? Guilty - The Denver Post

For years, Colorado has denied court-appointed counsel to poor defendants charged with minor crimes until the accused have heard prosecutors make a pitch for a plea deal.

The practice violates a defendant's Sixth Amendment constitutional right to representation, and it must change.

The hitch, in a state as cash- strapped as Colorado, is the price tag. Hiring enough staff to afford defendants their constitutional rights will cost an estimated $5 million to $6 million annually.

However, cost cannot be an excuse in failing to abide by the U.S. Constitution.

The issue made its way into the spotlight when two non-profits earlier this month filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn the Colorado law.

In the lawsuit, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar and the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition cite a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision saying defendants have a right to counsel during any "critical stage" of proceedings against them.

Another decision, rendered by the court in 2010, held "that the negotiation of a plea bargain is a critical phase of litigation for purposes of the Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel."

Read more: Editorial: Cutting corners on justice? Guilty - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/headlines/ci_16820718#ixzz17uLg6JG7
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Prison is no place for people with mental illnesses - The Denver Post

Prison is no place for people with mental illnesses - The Denver Post

Today is international human rights day, and one thing we can do in the United States to honor it is to stop incarcerating persons with disabilities.

I was the young, urban teen ribbed for wearing thick glasses and hearing aids. I was placed in special education classes. I fought a lot. And I ended up in the juvenile justice system, where about 70 percent of us had mental health disorders.

I am now a man with a floating diagnosis of schizophrenia and bi-polarity.

And at age 17, I was sentenced to life in prison and quickly ended up in solitary confinement, a condition that added to my mental suspicions, my fears and my frustration at not being able to hear or see well.

You, as a taxpayer, now pay $30,000 a year for my care.

Early, effective community mental health and diversion programs could have helped me become a non-threatening, productive member of society — and could have saved you a lot of money.

I don't deny that I should be punished for my crime. I do contend it did not need to happen.

We need to provide access to treatment services for all people. We need to evaluate disabilities early and help families understand the need to get help for their special- needs children. We need programs to help these families pay for the treatment and glasses or hearing aids or other adaptations that their children need.

We need to step beyond the stigmas of mental illness and disability. We need better communication among treatment providers, our courts and corrections.

If, as Dostoevsky wrote, "The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons," then we have a long way to go.

Read more: Prison is no place for people with mental illnesses - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_16820159#ixzz17j5MebCe
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Suit argues all defendants deserve counsel from the start - The Denver Post

Suit argues all defendants deserve counsel from the start - The Denver Post

Colorado's long-standing practice of withholding public lawyers from defendants in minor cases until after they have considered a plea deal is now being challenged in federal court.

The practice, enacted in a 1992 state statute, is the subject of a suit filed in Denver's U.S. District Court by Colorado's Criminal Defense Bar and the Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

The two nonprofit organizations argue in the suit, filed against the governor's office, that the practice violates the Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

Colorado is the only state with a law that, in effect, requires indigent defendants to go without legal representation until an effort at a plea agreement with a prosecutor is made.

If the defendant can't reach an agreement with the prosecutor or does not want to negotiate, he or she can request an attorney.

The law was passed because it was seen as a cost-cutting measure when the Colorado public defender asked for more money from the legislature to handle its growing case load.

Although the cases affected by the statute are not felonies, they can have serious consequences.

"It impacts a group who don't have money to hire a lawyer," said Lisa Wayne, a Colorado attorney and president-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Defendants may learn from a prosecutor that they are not seeking a jail sentence and see the offer as a great deal, but they don't realize there are consequences down the line.

Read more: Suit argues all defendants deserve counsel from the start - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16812574#ixzz17cadS2No
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Monday, December 06, 2010

Prison guard arrested for Internet luring of a child - The Denver Post

Prison guard arrested for Internet luring of a child - The Denver Post

A 59-year-old Colorado Department of Corrections officer who believed he was about to meet an underage teenager for sex has been arrested by the Jefferson County district attorney's office for investigation of Internet luring of a child.

The man was identified as Arthur Frank Stafford, who worked as a prison guard at the Sterling Correctional Facility, according to Katherine Sanguinetti, DOC spokeswoman.

Stafford joined the Department of Corrections in March 2000 and began working at the Sterling facility in May 2008, she said. He was placed on administrative leave on Sunday, the same day he was arrested at the Village Inn, 4775 Kipling St. in Wheat Ridge.

According to an arrest affidavit for Stafford, on Nov. 4 Stafford contacted Jefferson County District Attorney Investigator Mike Harris who was posing online as an underage teenage female.

In the course of the next few weeks, Stafford allegedly sent the "young woman" pictures of male genitalia and asked for sexually graphic photos of the person he believed to be the underage teen, according to the arrest affidavit.

During the course of the online communications, Stafford allegedly said that he had a friend by the name of "Frank", who worked for DOC, who would like to meet the girl.

Read more: Prison guard arrested for Internet luring of a child - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16791528#ixzz17OkXDxXr
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Sunday, December 05, 2010

Pardon papers paint picture of Doors singer's wild night - The Denver Post

Pardon papers paint picture of Doors singer's wild night - The Denver Post

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It's a strange sheaf of documents for Florida's governor to have. The thick notebook describes how Jim Morrison discussed sex with a lamb he held on stage, ordered fans to "love your neighbor 'til it hurts" and later, at trial, defended his boozy singing to a prosecutor.

But did the lead singer of The Doors show his genitals to the crowd at a 1969 concert in Miami, a charge on which he was famously convicted? Gov. Charlie Crist wants to posthumously pardon him of indecent exposure and profanity convictions, and the governor's last chance is coming up at a Clemency Board meeting Thursday. Crist leaves office in January.

Crist asked his staff to find whatever information they could about the Miami concert, and the governor received a three-ring binder with dozens of pages.

At one point, Morrison told the Miami crowd, "I'm talkin' about love your neighbor 'til it hurts! I'm talkin' about grab your friend! I'm talkin' about some love, I'm talkin' about some love, I'm talking about some love, I'm talkin' about love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love! Grab your (expletive) friend and love him! Come on! Yeah!"

The research, much of it culled from websites such as www.rockmine.com, projects the image of a man who had problems with alcohol and had a penchant for mischief. But Crist thinks it also casts doubt on the 1970 conviction. After reviewing it, he said he was reminded of something Bob Butterworth, his predecessor as the state's attorney general, once told him.

Read more: Pardon papers paint picture of Doors singer's wild night - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_16779641#ixzz17FUAJDuO
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Colo. may set limits for driving after marijuana use - The Denver Post

Colo. may set limits for driving after marijuana use - The Denver Post

Colorado could soon establish tough new measures to crack down on those who toke and drive.

Under a proposal expected to be introduced at the Capitol early next year, the state would create a threshold for the amount of THC — the psychoactive component of marijuana — drivers could have in their blood. Anyone who is stopped and tests above that limit would be considered to be driving while stoned.

Drivers suspected of being impaired by marijuana or other drugs already have to submit to a blood test or face a suspension of their licenses. But the proposed law would set a standard at which the law would presume a driver impaired by marijuana.

"It will bring some clarity to the issue of whether you are or are not impaired under the influence of marijuana," said state Rep. Claire Levy, a Boulder Democrat who is likely to be one of the proposal's sponsors in the legislature. ". . . There isn't a bright line right now."

State law already bans driving while under the influence of drugs, but law enforcement officials say the law is vague on how they should establish a suspect is high. That — plus the concern that the state's medical-marijuana explosion could lead to more impaired driving — led members of a subgroup of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to examine the issue, said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, a commission member.

"It became clear to us that marijuana is an area that had not been given due consideration," he said.

Read more: Colo. may set limits for driving after marijuana use - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/marijuana/ci_16780152#ixzz17FTNKVNa
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Solitary Confinement study "deeply flawed"

As reported here last summer, a controversial state study suggesting no harmful psychological effects from solitary confinement was drawing heated protests from prison activists even before it was published. Now that it's been released, psychiatric experts and the ACLU of Colorado are saying the report is just -- well, crazy.
Can life in lockup be good for you? The Colorado Department of Corrections thinks so.

After studying and testing close to 250 inmates confined to administrative segregation (that's prison-speak for "the hole") at the state supermax and elsewhere over several months, researchers found little or no deterioration in the subjects' mental state as a result of their isolation. In fact, "there was initial improvement in psychological well-being across all study groups," regardless of whether the prisoners were mentally ill or not at the time they were sent to ad-seg.

The findings are at odds with most of the scientific literature on the effects of solitary, which has prompted respected researchers -- including Stuart Grassian, a pioneer at Harvard in studying the issue -- to question the study's methodology and omissions. In this broadside from the ACLU, psychiatrist Terry Kupers calls the study "so deeply flawed that I would consider the conclusions almost entirely erroneous."

ACLU and Experts Slam DOC Findings on Solitary Confinement

The ACLU of Colorado and leading forensic psychology experts are questioning the findings of a report released by the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) on the psychological effects of solitary confinement.  The report, titled “One Year Longitudinal Study of the Psychological Effects of Administrative Segregation,” concludes that solitary confinement does not cause mentally ill prisoners to get worse.  The ACLU noted that this conclusion, which contradicts considerable previous research and prevailing expert opinion, also poses a danger of rationalizing the continued warehousing of seriously mentally ill prisoners in “supermax” conditions that impede treatment and improvement.

Dr. Terry Kupers, one of the world’s leading experts on the psychological effects of solitary confinement, notes that “the methodology of the study is so deeply flawed that I would consider the conclusions almost entirely erroneous.  I fear that this seemingly scientific study will be used to justify the use of solitary confinement with mentally ill prisoners in the future.”  He continued, “the researchers did not even spend time talking to the subjects about their experience in supermax.  And far from finding 'no harm,' there were many episodes of psychosis and suicidal behavior during the course of the study - the researchers merely minimize the emotional pain and suffering because they judge the prisoners to have been already damaged before they arrived at supermax.  Further, the tests in this study are designed as accompaniments to record reviews and clinical interviews, and are not valid as stand-alone self-reports, which is how this study utilized them.  By only including prisoners who volunteered for the study and who can read at an 8th grade level or better, the researchers excluded two of the groups most likely to be adversely affected by solitary confinement: those who refuse to participate in social interaction and those unable to pass time by reading and writing.”
Dr. Stuart Grassian, a Board-Certified forensic psychiatrist and former faculty member at Harvard Medical School, was invited by the study’s authors to review their research.
“Prior to publication, I informed the researchers that their report contains several fatal flaws in methodology, particularly their decision not to analyze to data that contradicted their conclusions. DOC files record incidents of emergency psychiatric contacts (e.g. incidents of suicidal or self-destructive behavior).  Among the prisoners in solitary confinement, there were almost two incidents for every three inmates (63%), as compared to less than one incident for every ten inmates (9%) in the general population. This objective data squarely contradicts the authors’ conclusion that solitary confinement does not produce significantly more psychiatric difficulties than does general prison housing.  The authors simply declined to perform this straightforward statistical analysis, even after the oversight was explicitly pointed out.
As Dr. Grassian notes, while the study is flawed, there are some useful pieces of data. For example, it confirms that a shockingly high number of inmates in solitary confinement are suffering from serious mental illness.
“The DOC’s study confirms a scandalous and unacceptable reality: there are hundreds of seriously mentally ill prisoners who are essentially warehoused in solitary confinement under conditions that prevent them from receiving adequate treatment for their illness,” said Ray Drew, ACLU Executive Director, who recently toured seven solitary confinement units at various Colorado prisons.  “Even if the study were reliable, a proposition many experts contest, it concludes only that solitary isn’t causing further deterioration.  But that’s a far cry from meeting the DOC’s legal obligation to provide the treatment the prisoners need.”
The decision to base many of its findings upon inmates’ self-reported information is the report’s most obvious weakness. Prisoners have every incentive to downplay symptoms of mental illness and deny their suffering in order to present themselves as healthy enough to be released from solitary. Yet instead of acknowledging this basic truth, the DOC tries to turn it on its head, noting that prisoners “may have reason to exaggerate their symptoms.”
The report concludes that there was “improvement in psychological well-being across all study groups,” while at the same time noting that the official prison records—a major component of the data—were “inconsistent and incomplete.”
The report’s troubling conclusions create the very real danger that it will be used to justify the current system of solitary confinement, allowing it to operate without regard to its ineffective nature, dubious constitutionality, or cost to the taxpayer. Ultimately, well over 90% of prisoners held in solitary confinement will be released to the community. 41% are released directly from solitary confinement to the streets, after years of total isolation from human contact. They don’t last long. 68% return to prison within three years, as compared to a 50% recidivism rate in the overall prison population.
“We must address this from a public safety perspective, as well as a policy issue,” said Drew. “Furthermore, the practice of releasing prisoners directly to the streets after years of solitary confinement simply cannot continue. It is a danger to the public and an almost surefire way to guarantee that a prisoner will be returning to prison.”
Dr. Terry Kupers is a Board-certified psychiatrist, Institute Professor at The Wright Institute and author of Prison Madness: The Mental Health Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It.  He has served as an expert witness and monitor in class action litigation about conditions of confinement such as supermax isolation, the quality of correctional mental health care and the ramifications of sexual abuse of prisoners.  He was named “Exemplary Psychiatrist” by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) in 2005.
Dr. Stuart Grassian is a Board-certified psychiatrist and former faculty member of the Harvard Medical Schools. He has served as an expert witness in numerous lawsuits addressing solitary confinement, and his conclusions have been cited in a number of federal court decisions.  He has provided invited testimony before legislative hearings in New York State, Maine and Massachusetts.

Lawyers for Ft. Collins cop want Masters perjury case tossed - The Denver Post

Lawyers for Ft. Collins cop want Masters perjury case tossed - The Denver Post

FORT COLLINS — Lawyers argued Wednesday that all or a portion of a perjury case against Fort Collins police Lt. Jim Broderick should be thrown out because prosecutors withheld evidence from the grand jury that indicted him.

Broderick, the lead investigator in the Tim Masters murder case, was indicted by a Weld County grand jury this year on eight counts of perjury for his role in the Masters investigation.

But during a nearly five-hour hearing, Broderick's lawyers picked apart each count, claiming evidence was not handed over to the grand jury that would have cleared Broderick.

They also argued that some of the perjury charges were unsupported by evidence or were based on Broderick's comments that were taken out of context.

"There are fundamental flaws to all counts of the indictment," said attorney Patrick Tooley. "Mr. Broderick's answers throughout this entire case have been accurate, truthful and responsive."

District Judge James Hartmann said he would rule on the defense claims by the end of January.

Special prosecutors have said in written motions that the defense assertions were made "presumably in an effort to call into the question the credibility or professionalism of the prosecutors assigned to this case." The allegations, they said, are "inflammatory."

Read more: Lawyers for Ft. Collins cop want Masters perjury case tossed - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16755216#ixzz16yCFTxv2
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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

US Supreme Court Hears Prison Overcrowding Case

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 30, 2010. Contact: Margaret Dooley-Sammuli 213-291-4190 or Tommy McDonald 510-229-5215

WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in Schwarzenegger v. Plata, a landmark prison rights case in which a federal court found the unconstitutional conditions of California's prisons were caused primarily by overcrowding and ordered California to reduce prison overcrowding from over 200% of design capacity down (by about 40,000 people) to 137.5% of capacity within two years. California has conceded that the state's prison conditions are unconstitutional but has nonetheless asked the Supreme Court to put the states' right to administer its prisons before the constitutional rights of individuals who are wards of the state.
"One of the primary reasons that the state's prisons are dangerously overcrowded is that California continues to lock up thousands of people each year for low-level drug possession. There is no basis in evidence or principle to expose people to this dangerous environment simply for the possession of a small amount of illicit substances," says Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance in Southern California. "California must follow the lead of other states like Texas and New York and stop sending people to state prison for drug possession, which can be handled as a health issue safely, effectively and affordably in the community."
"The state currently spends $500 million a year to incarcerate 10,000 people for nothing more than personal drug possession," Dooley-Sammuli continued. "That does not include the unknown number of parolees who have been returned to prison for a few months based on the results of a drug test. This is a terrible waste of scarce resources. Treatment in the community is effective and affordable. Unfortunately, California this year eliminated funding for community-based treatment for drug possession arrestees."
"People who use drugs do not belong in the state's cruel and costly prisons simply for that personal use. We urge California to take the logical step of ending incarceration as a response to drug possession, while expanding opportunities for drug treatment in the community," continued Dooley-Sammuli.

AP Enterprise: Video shows private Idaho prison guards watching inmate attack - The Denver Post

AP Enterprise: Video shows private Idaho prison guards watching inmate attack - The Denver Post

BOISE, IDAHO — The surveillance video from the overhead cameras shows Hanni Elabed being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managing to bang on a prison guard station window, pleading for help. Behind the glass, correctional officers look on, but no one intervenes when Elabed is knocked unconscious.
No one steps into the cellblock when the attacker sits down to rest, and no one stops him when he resumes the beating.
Videos of the attack obtained by The Associated Press show officers watching the beating for several minutes. The footage is a key piece of evidence for critics who claim the privately run Idaho Correctional Center uses inmate-on-inmate violence to force prisoners to snitch on their cellmates
Former inmate Hanni Elabed is shown during an interview with The Associated Press in Boise, Idaho. Elabed suffered brain damage and persistent short-term memory loss after he was beaten by another inmate while multiple guards watched at the Idaho prison operated by Corrections Corporation of America. (AP | Jessie L. Bonner)
or risk being moved to extremely violent units. On Tuesday, hours after the AP published the video, the top federal prosecutor in Idaho told the AP that the FBI has launched a civil rights investigation of the staff at the prison, which is run by the Corrections Corporation of America.
The investigation covers multiple assaults between inmates, including the attack on Elabed, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said.
A message left by the AP seeking CCA's reaction to the FBI probe was not immediately returned.
Lawsuits from inmates contend the company denies prisoners medical treatment as a way of covering up the assaults. They have dubbed the Idaho lockup "gladiator school" because it is so violent.
The AP initially sought a copy of the videos from state court, but Idaho 4th District Judge Patrick Owen denied that request. The AP decided to publish the videos after a person familiar with the case verified their authenticity.
The videos show at least three guards watching as Elabed was stomped on a dozen times. At no time during the recorded sequence did anyone try to pull away James Haver, a short, slight man.
About two minutes after Haver stopped the beating of his own accord, the metal cellblock door was unlocked. Haver was handcuffed and Elabed was examined for signs of life. He bled inside his skull and would spend three days in a coma.
CCA, the nation's largest private prison company, said it was "highly disappointed and deeply concerned" over AP's decision to release the videos.
"Public release of the video poses an unnecessary security risk to our staff, the inmates entrusted to our care, and ultimately to the public," the prison company said in a statement.

Read more: AP Enterprise: Video shows private Idaho prison guards watching inmate attack - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_16744270#ixzz16ouFBAbk
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Judge tosses out videotaped interrogation of Colorado Springs teen accused of murder - The Denver Post

Judge tosses out videotaped interrogation of Colorado Springs teen accused of murder - The Denver Post

A judge on Monday tossed out a videotaped interrogation of a 14-year-old Colorado Springs boy accused of killing his younger brother, ruling that police failed to properly advise the youngster of his right to have a parent in the room.

Fourth Judicial District Judge David L. Shakes said a detective gave Daniel Gudino, then 13, what amounted to "a drive-by advisement" before the youngster signed a waiver allowing the interview to continue without his father present.

As a result, prosecutors will not be able to present to a jury any of the statements Daniel gave to Detective Donald Chagnon during the May 18, 2009, interview at police headquarters hours after the fatal shooting.

Police arrested Daniel after he allegedly shot to death his 9-year-old brother, Ulysses Jr., and wounded their mother, Marina, at the family's home in the 1800 block of Chapel Hills Drive. He is accused of first-degree murder and attempted murder in juvenile court.

Read more: Judge tosses out videotaped interrogation of Colorado Springs teen accused of murder - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16738520#ixzz16lzozVnn
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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ex-Justice Stevens Explains His Reversal On the Death Penalty


WASHINGTON — In 1976, just six months after he joined the Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens voted to reinstate capital punishment after a four-year moratorium. With the right procedures, he wrote, it is possible to ensure “evenhanded, rational and consistent imposition of death sentences under law.”
In 2008, two years before he announced his retirement, Justice Stevens reversed course and in a concurrence said that he now believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional.
But the reason for that change of heart, after more than three decades on the court and some 1,100 executions, has in many ways remained a mystery, and now Justice Stevens has provided an explanation.
In a detailed, candid and critical essay to be published this week in The New York Review of Books, he wrote that personnel changes on the court, coupled with “regrettable judicial activism,” had created a system of capital punishment that is shot through with racism, skewed toward conviction, infected with politics and tinged with hysteria.
The essay is remarkable in itself. But it is also a sign that at 90, Justice Stevens is intent on speaking his mind on issues that may have been off limits while he was on the court.
In the process, he is forging a new model of what to expect from Supreme Court justices after they leave the bench, one that includes high-profile interviews and provocative speeches.
He will be on “60 Minutes” on Sunday night.
Earlier this month, he weighed in on the controversy over the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in a speech to the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.

Friday, November 26, 2010

McFadyen looks beyond the Legisature

Pueblo Chieftain

DENVER — State Rep. Buffie McFadyen, D-Pueblo West, made a name for herself fighting for the corrections officers in her district for eight years at the State Capitol. Now that her days as a legislator are behind her, McFadyen finds herself fighting for prison employees again, but in a new capacity.

In her post-legislative existence, McFadyen will continue her career in land development in Pueblo County and venture into a new arena as a contracted advocate for the interests of prison employees nationwide and opposing the private-prison industry.

The term-limited lawmaker said her pet issue, state employees in Southern Colorado in particular, faces a difficult legislative session ahead as the General Assembly finds ways to pare $1 billion from the state budget.

“As state employees go, so does the Southern Colorado economy,” McFadyen said. “(Term-limited) Sen. Abel Tapia (D-Pueblo)and I teamed up to protect Southern Colorado as best we could. It’s going to be on some newcomers to do it now. They need to have the political will on both sides of the aisle to accomplish that. It’s going to be daunting.”

Hot meals and genuine smiles warm day - The Denver Post

Hot meals and genuine smiles warm day - The Denver Post

White linen tablecloths and sparkling silverware were set out. Waitresses and chefs answered special requests not on the menu.

By all accounts, service was exemplary, but these were no ordinary guests and the staff were not smiling and being congenial in the expectation of a huge tip.

The 800-plus patrons streaming into the Rock Bottom Brewery on Thanksgiving afternoon to be cordially seated were people ordinarily seen begging outside the eatery's doors.

The staff had volunteered.

"It's first-class service," restaurant general manager Melanie Keller said. "Special love went into this meal."

Patrons ordered their choice of any drink on the menu — with the exception of alcohol. They were also

served ham, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and rolls.

For dessert, patrons got to choose among a brownie, pecan pie or pumpkin pie.

James Praiswater, who has fought a methamphetamine addiction for the past 25 years, was in a long line outside in the cold sipping hot coffee. He and John Ward, who was released three days ago from the Delta Correctional Center, are enrolled in a drug-rehabilitation program at Jesus Saves.

"The waitresses are really friendly. They're smiling all the time. It's like they're enjoying what they're doing," said Sherrie Merchant, who has been homeless on and off for 30 years.

Read more: Hot meals and genuine smiles warm day - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16713177#ixzz16OYO8U4L
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