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.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Denver neighbors concerned about planned methadone clinic on E. Colfax

 A planned medical clinic serving recovering drug addicts on East Colfax Avenue has upset some nearby residents, who are angry about, among other things, the proximity to Denver East High School.
The Denver Recovery Group, 2822 E. Colfax Ave., is under construction and could open sometime next month, but residents who live nearby and who have students attending East High School are worried about their children walking past the clinic, the possibility of increased crime, loitering and decreased property values.

"Having that activity doesn't strike me as a good idea," resident Alison Laevey said.
Residents will be able to get more information, ask questions and voice concerns at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. April 21 at East High School.

The Denver Recovery Group is a startup medical clinic that will provide medication and assistance to recovering addicts of heroin, painkillers and other drugs. One of the common treatment drugs is methadone, a synthetic opioid that helps patients kick heroin and morphine addictions. Methadone is not the only drug dispensed at the clinic.

The same owners also have a clinic in Las Cruces, N.M. called Alt Recovery Center.
Despite concerns, Denver Recovery Group partner Chad Tewksbury said the need is present in the area and he believes there is a misconception about the clientele.

"It's more dangerous to walk past the addicts already on Colfax," Tewksbury said. "No one is forced to come here. They're coming voluntarily."

Some of the surrounding neighborhoods also voiced concerns last year when a similar clinic moved to 1620 Gaylord St. from two blocks north. That clinic is part of Addiction Research and Treatment Services run by the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Addiction Research and Treatment Services executive director Tom Brewster said things have run smoothly since the clinic moved in October. He added that rather than increase crime, these facilities should help reduce crime and help the growing number of drug addicts in Denver.
"This is really a problem; we're trying to address it," Brewster said. "We can hardly keep up."

Another nearby clinic, the BHG Denver Downtown Treatment Center near 18th Avenue and Josephine Street, is scheduled to move in the coming months, leaving a void in the area.
Denver City Councilwoman Jeanne Robb, who represents the area, said she has met with several residents who are upset over the plans and her office is in the process of looking into how this is handled in other areas of the state and across the country.

"Unfortunately, right now we have no restrictions," Robb said. "It's classified as a medical clinic."
The zoning permit for the clinic was approved in January by the city and Tewksbury said he has a three-year lease.

Resident Robert Mutch said he and his wife had put about $150,000 into refurbishing his house, less than a block away from the clinic, but he's now considering moving rather than doing more work.
"All of the neighbors are just livid about it," he said.

Tewksbury said he chose this area because he collaborated with the State Opioid Treatment Authority and identified this as a place that needs this type of clinic. It's also on the bus route. He said he's already receiving calls asking when the clinic will open so clients can transfer.
"I'm passionate about what we're doing," he said.
Joe Vaccarelli: 303-954-2396, jvaccarelli@denverpost.com or twitter.com/joe_vacc
Community meeting:
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Date: Tuesday, April 21
Where: Denver East High School, 1600 City Park Esplanade

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Take Care - Health Matters: Hassan Latif, Executive Director, Second Cha...

Take Care Health Matters


We are very excited to share with you the launch of the Take Care Health Matters website. The website serves as a tool and resource to assist justice involved individuals access health care due to the new opportunities under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This website is part of CCJRC’s larger health care access campaign, which we have been engaged in over the past year with our partners the Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP).


An estimated 70% - 90% of justice involved individuals in Colorado are currently uninsured. The ACA offers unprecedented opportunities to help connect these justice involved individuals with health care. Not only do we believe the ACA promotes alternatives to the overuse of the criminal justice system, but connecting justice involved individuals with health care has been shown to reduce recidivism and improve the health and lives of individuals. The ACA also provides an opportunity to treat mental health and addiction disorders as a public health issue, not a criminal issue.
We are hopeful this website serves as a resource to increase the number of justice involved individuals who are able to utilize and access health care services in Colorado.
Specific on the website you'll find:

  • Video stories from both justice involved individuals and criminal justice staff sharing the importance of health care
  • A research library highlighting the significance and impact the ACA can have on justice involved individuals
  • Resources for justice involved individuals on who to contact to enroll in and access health care services, including behavioral health
  • Recorded webinars for health care, criminal justice, and community members
  • A professional guide geared towards health care, criminal justice, and community members to establish relationships and connect with one another
  • How to find a health care provider
  • And much, much more………
We encourage you to take a look at the website and spend some time learning from the stories and information. You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!
We are extremely grateful for our partnership with CCLP and all of you who have helped contribute to this project. While the ACA offers new strategies to reform the criminal justice system, we know there are challenges and gaps in health care services, particularly for mental health and substance abuse treatment. CCJRC will continue to engage in, monitor, and work to improve the ability for justice involved individuals to enroll in and access health care. As always, we appreciate your continued support as we work to end mass incarceration and promote healthcare as a human right

CCJRC Weekly Legislative Update


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Guest commentary: Criminal Justice Reform Doesn't Mean Being Soft on Crime

he facts are clear: The United States has 5 percent of the world's population but almost 25 percent of the world's prisoners. With more than 2 million people in jails and prisons, the U.S. leads the industrialized world in both incarceration rates and total numbers.

In addition, prisons have become the default accommodation for people with mental illness and drug addictions, and treatment is minimal. Not surprisingly, recidivism rates are extremely high: Close to half of the people released from prison return within three years.

It's no secret that felony convictions and incarceration lead to a drop in earnings, higher unemployment, and reduced future opportunities. Unless this trend is reversed, the path from poverty to self-sufficiency will remain elusive.

Some states, including Colorado, are working to revamp their outdated justice systems. On the federal level, we are pleased to see organizations normally on opposite sides of the political spectrum — like the ACLU and Koch Industries — try to achieve true reform and consensus.

No matter our political party affiliation, our shared goals should be to improve public safety by lowering crime rates; reduce re-offending; promote personal responsibility; and use evidence-based practices during probation and parole to focus on treatment.

We seek a more victim- and community-centered process that addresses victims' needs for restitution and recovery. Our criminal justice system should align incentives with human nature and reward positive behavior and outcomes. 

We should all be able to agree upon a variety of measures to fix our criminal justice system, to specifically address over-criminalization and mass incarceration while lowering costs. Ending mandatory minimum sentences and allowing judges to do their jobs is one reasonable step. Mandatory minimum sentences are knee-jerk reactions that result in long-term incarceration and expand prison budgets with no increase in public safety.

Another practical approach is the problem-solving courts we use very successfully in Colorado for drugs, mental health, family dependency/neglect and veteran trauma issues. If an offender is committed to doing the hard work to recover, let's use Drug Court and send them to rehab rather than putting them in prison and prolonging their bad habits.

Colorado funds Veterans Court using state money and federal grant money. U.S. military veterans who are eligible for the program and who suffer from disorders like PTSD, domestic violence, mental health and substance abuse can get treatment rather than be incarcerated. Trauma Courts are an effective way to repay the obligation to our veterans with significant savings and benefits both to them and to our communities.
Colorado has been a national leader in adopting restorative justice in our criminal and juvenile justice systems. Restorative justice is a process that emphasizes repairing the harm to victims and the community rather than focusing on punishment and incarceration. It is a powerful transformative process that has demonstrated recidivism rates of less than 10 percent.

The "schools-to-jail pipeline" that has criminalized in-school conduct with ineffective zero-tolerance policies has resulted in more than 100,000 students being referred to law enforcement. Reducing contact with law enforcement and using restorative justice practices will ensure our youth are given the best chance for success.

Criminal justice reform doesn't mean we are "soft on crime." It means we are being smart about not making everything a crime. We encourage our state legislators and members of Congress to work together to support these efforts.
B.J. Nikkel, a Republican from Loveland, served in the Colorado House from 2009 to 2012. State Rep. Pete Lee, a Democrat from Colorado Springs, has served in the Colorado House since 2011.