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, February 16, 2010

A second chance for felons - The Denver Post

A second chance for felons - The Denver Post

One of the final pieces of legislation that President George W. Bush signed before leaving office was the Second Chance Act, appropriate for a man who originally ran on a "compassionate conservatism" platform. The law seeks to improve the lives and prospects of people returning to the larger community from prison.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2008, more than 7.3 million people were on probation or parole or in prison — 3.2 percent of all adult residents and the highest rate in the world. The aggregate federal and state incarceration expenditures alone (not including prosecution, probation, etc.) exceed $50 billion.

So, in many respects, Americans have a vested interest in helping those who err and pay the price — especially non-violent criminals — return to society as productive members and not remain prisoners (literally and figuratively) of the state.

It is an issue that should transcend political ideology, too. Liberals, after all, profess tolerance for those who make mistakes. Conservatives embrace personal responsibility, but should also want those who accept it to become contributors to society again rather than just consumers of its resources. And as a religious nation, many proclaim to believe in redemption.

I have a vested interest in this issue. I have a pathological gambling addiction that eventually landed me in federal prisons for 25 months in the prime of my life and left my family without a husband and father.

I have an unusual record of recovery without relapse during the past eight years. Additionally, I have recovered tens of millions of dollars for taxpayers after successfully settling a health care whistleblower lawsuit. But while I am proud of my abstinence from gambling and my success in uncovering health care fraud my other professional accomplishments during that time are paltry — largely, I believe, due to my felon status.