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, October 18, 2014

Randy Ankeney suit that could release thousands headed to Supreme Court

Randy Ankeney was once a rising star in the Colorado Republican party, only to become a pariah after being found guilty of numerous sex crimes. However, he now has the opportunity to impact the state in a completely different way. A complaint he brought about alleged prisoner-release violations by the Colorado Department of Corrections is headed to the state supreme court, and if it's successful, his attorney, David Lane, says it could result in potentially thousands of inmates who've been incarcerated too long being freed. Details, more photos and original documents below.
See also: Clayton Lockett Botched Execution: Denver's David Lane Files Suit Over "Disgrace to USA"
The case is exceedingly complex, but Lane, who just spoke to us about the lawsuit he filed on behalf of Clayton Lockett, the Oklahoma killer whose execution was horribly botched earlier this year, sees its possible impact as simple. In his words, "The State of Colorado will immediately have to parole thousands of inmates if we win."

Ankeney, who was trained as a lawyer, has already won related cases at lower court levels -- a contrast to the court appearances that led to his incarceration. A 2006 Colorado Independent piece details his fall. Described by the site as a "prominent onetime appointee in former Governor Bill Owens' administration who was being groomed as a future GOP leader in Colorado," Ankeney made the wrong kind of headlines in 2001, when he was arrested on suspicion of "picking up a thirteen-year old girl he had met on the Internet, taking her to his home, getting her drunk and stoned on marijuana, taking topless photos of her and trying to coerce her into having sex with him."
Five years later, Ankeney got into trouble again, this time in regard to a twenty-year-old woman. The Independent notes that he was " originally slapped with three felony sex offenses and two misdemeanor charges, ranging from sexual assault to false imprisonment." According to the opening brief to the Colorado Supreme Court (one of three documents shared here), the cumulative cases resulted in convictions for child abuse -- negligently cause serious bodily injury, plus third-degree sexual assault and stalking -- emotional distress.
For these crimes, Ankeney was sentenced to a total of eight years, with the possibility of parole after considerably less time -- and when that parole should have kicked in is the crux of the Supreme Court case.
"Envision a sentence as a timeline," Lane says, "with your first day of incarceration on the left and the inmate serving time from left to right. The first significant date is the parole eligibility date. That's determined by statute as 50 percent of the sentence" -- in Ankeney's case, four years -- "if you've been behaving yourself. And the other significant date is the mandatory release date, when they can't hold you any longer -- they have to parole you. And good behavior should make that timeline move back from right to left."

Rick Raemish, executive director of Colorado's Department of Corrections, seen in a 7News interview, is among the plaintiffs named in the complaint.
Other credits can reduce sentences even further. If, for example, "someone's got a job in the prison," Lane says, "he can get another ten days a month off his parole eligibility date," and educational earned time can knock off an additional five days per month -- although the parole board has discretion about how it applies both of these credits. There are fewer choices in regard to so-called earned time for good behavior. Although Ankeney's accumulated credits meant he could have been released after just three years, Lane says, "once he hit that four-year mark, he had to be paroled, because he had all his credits. If you read the law, it says this is mandatory: If you're behaving yourself, you shall be given a good-time credit per month."
However, Lane argues that the DOC "is refusing to use good time to calculate your mandatory release date." As a result, "they said Ankeney's mandatory release date wouldn't hit until he'd served six years and change."
In response, Lane goes on, "Ankeney called bullshit and filed his own case in district court."
He lost his first attempt "because the parole statutes are massively complicated and confusing," Lane points out. "But then he took his own appeal to the Court of Appeals and won."