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.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Volatile Mix Fuels A Murder

The New York Times
NEWARK — Derek West Harris wore tailored pants, soft sweaters and shiny shoes. People called him D-Nice. His easygoing manner drew customers to his barber’s chair at Million Dollar Kutz in Newark, a shop where he was known as much for his conversation as for his trims. He chatted about religion, relationships and cars, which he loved.

It was a car that landed Mr. Harris in New Jersey’s troubled system of halfway houses. In May 2009, the police pulled him over in a Mazda Millenia he had recently bought and found that he had not yet registered or insured it. He also had about $700 in unpaid traffic tickets.
After his arrest, Mr. Harris was not held at the local jail. Instead, he was sent to Delaney Hall, a 1,200-bed halfway house here that was set up to rehabilitate inmates sentenced for minor offenses. But Mr. Harris, 51, was thrown in with violent criminals.
Two days later, three of those inmates robbed Mr. Harris of the contents of his pockets — $3 — and killed him.
The inmates were prosecuted, but officials cleared Delaney Hall of responsibility.
Officials of Essex County, which includes Newark, maintain that they use Delaney Hall, rather than the far more secure county jail, solely for low-level offenders like Mr. Harris who need rehabilitation and treatment.
Yet internal county documents obtained by The New York Times show that the county has been placing inmates at Delaney Hall who have a history of violence and have been charged with violent crimes.
There is a financial incentive for this policy: to generate revenue for the county.
By placing inmates at Delaney Hall, the county frees beds at its jail. It then earns a significant profit by renting those beds to the federal government to house federal inmates and immigration detainees. About 40 percent of the county jail’s roughly 2,400 beds are now reserved for federal use.
The Times’s findings on the Harris killing, part of a 10-month examination of the halfway-house system in New Jersey, underscore how financial concerns are playing a pivotal role in prison privatization in the state, which is a national leader in this movement.

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