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, December 18, 2012

Exciting matching grant opportunity

As this year comes to a close, CCJRC wants to thank YOU for helping us have another successful year. After years and years of pushing to end mass incarceration, the prison population has declined for the third year in a row and the fifth prison closed ahead of schedule.  We simply couldn’t have done any of this without you.  Today, we are writing to ask you to support CCJRC and share some exciting news.
The Unitarian Universalist Fund for a Just Society has just awarded CCJRC a matching gift grant of $2,000.00!  That means that any donation you make may be matched dollar for dollar.  We would love to be able to access the full amount of this grant by the end of 2012 and your donation would also be fully tax-deductible.
We know that behind every statistic are people and families and that is our ultimate focus.  For CCJRC, the battle for reform isn’t just political, it’s intensely personal. And it’s especially personal for me.

On November 22, 2012, after waiting 15 years, I was finally able to make Thanksgiving dinner for my 2 children.

The back story behind that statement is why I am here today.  In July of 1997, I was sentenced to prison for 6 years for possession of a small amount of drugs. I had a prior felony conviction and no money for treatment and so the judge sentenced me to prison. At the time I was a single mom with two children, my daughter was 8 and my son was 4 years old.  They were placed in foster care because I didn’t have any family in Colorado.

While I was in prison, my parental rights were terminated due to the length of my sentence and my children were put up for adoption. After I was released, I fought for and regained my parental rights to my daughter.  She was returned to my home in 2004 after going through 23 separate foster home placements.  It was too late to get my son back because he had already been legally adopted.  My daughter and I were not allowed to have contact with him.

In 2005, I went to work for CCJRC to help change our inhumane drug laws.

In 2010, CCJRC worked with the state Commission’s Drug Policy Task Force and helped develop a drug sentencing reform bill that was passed by the state Legislature with overwhelming bi-partisan support.  I was thrilled because the same crime that I was sentenced to 6 years in prison for now carried a maximum sentence of 18 months.

Since then, CCJRC continued to work on the Drug Policy Task Force and last week the Commission unanimously approved recommendations that will rewrite the entire Controlled Substances Act. Look to hear from us a lot during the 2013 Legislative session.  We’re going to need you!

If I had been sentenced today instead of in 1997 my family wouldn’t have been shattered. Now, after fifteen years of living in the pain of a broken family and the incredible struggle we went through to make it whole, we were finally reunited when my son turned 18 years of age and he came home for Thanksgiving.  So we truly had something tremendous to be thankful for! 

It’s been a long road since CCJRC was founded in 1999 to help build the power and vision for alternatives to mass incarceration in Colorado.  In the basement of a church, a handful of folks got together and decided that something needed to be done.  We could no longer sit on the sidelines while the drug war raged out of control and the investment in our children’s education was gutted.

CCJRC will be advocating for a number of criminal justice reform bills during the 2013 legislative session.  We will be pushing for more funding for treatment and re-entry support services. We will also be pushing for the closure of more prisons, particularly the end of using for-profit private prisons in Colorado.

None of this can happen without you. Your engagement and support, along with the voices of thousands of others statewide, has created a movement.  The momentum is on our side and we will continue to work to achieve real change by advancing the message of practicality, reason and compassion to state and local policymakers and throughout the community.

Please make a generous tax-deductible donation today to CCJRC. Your support will help us to continue to fight for change and bring that message of hope to thousands of people caught up in the justice system in Colorado. 

They are not forgotten and this fall we were also able to deliver 15,000 free copies of the third edition of our reentry guide, Getting On After Getting Out, to people in prison. 

Thank you again for your generosity to this organization. Your involvement is deeply appreciated. Together we will continue to do the work that truly makes a difference.


Pamela Clifton, Communications Coordinator, on behalf of
           Christie Donner, Executive Director
Ellen Toomey-Hale, Development Coordinator
John Riley, Coalition Coordinator

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