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Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition CCJRC On the Reform of the Criminal Justice System

April 7, 2013

Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition

The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) is a non-profit organization that was formed to halt the exponential growth in the state prison …

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  1212 Mariposa St  Denver, CO 80204
(303) 825-0122

Contact Us

Contact CCJRC. Headquarters: 1212 Mariposa St., #6. Denver …

Getting On After Getting Out

INSTRUCTIONS: You can order Getting On After Getting Out in …

Board Member and Staff Bios

Christie Donner is CCJRC’s Executive Director and founder …

Current Legislative Info

Below is a list of websites with resources and information on …


CCJRC Overview. Since 1985, Colorado has experienced …

Events & Meetings

Upcoming Events. CCJRC’s 2013 ANNUAL FUNDRAISING …



Don’t let Tom Clements tragedy derail criminal justice reform


By Christie Donner and Mike Krause


“The horrific murder of Colorado’s corrections chief, Tom Clements, has raised questions about recent criminal justice reform efforts, and specifically 2011’s Senate Bill 176. However, the great, untold legislative success story of the last five years is the steady, measured and bipartisan progression of criminal justice reforms aimed at having effective and cost-efficient public safety policies.”

“Let’s not allow a tragedy to undo years of careful work toward sound policy reforms.”

“For decades, the Colorado Department of Corrections housed a far greater percentage of inmates in “administrative segregation,” or solitary confinement, than the national average. A large and growing percentage of inmates in administrative segregation have a serious mental illness, which raised the question of whether these inmates needed mental health treatment or medication in response to disruptive behavior, not long-term solitary confinement.”

“Finally, a DOC report indicated that 47 percent of inmates in administrative segregation were released straight to the community onto parole without any “step-down” to help them adjust to society after release. Legislators introduced SB 176 in 2011 to address these issues.”

“Clements came onto the job about the same time the bill was introduced. He helped create the bill that ultimately became law. As amended, the bill required the DOC to evaluate its use of administrative segregation and submit a report to the legislature the following year. It also allowed inmates in administrative segregation to be eligible for earned time.”

“Effective prison management and changing inmate behavior requires both consequences for rules violations and incentives for positive behavior and progress. There were no mandates in SB 176, and the DOC has the sole power to determine whether an individual inmate will be awarded earned time or not.”

“Clements was well aware of the complexity of running both safe prisons and preparing people for release. He supported SB 176, and it received significant bipartisan support in the legislature.”

“Colorado adopted a get-tough sentencing approach in the 1980s. The prison population and budget exploded as a result. But incarcerating more people is not the only, or most effective, approach or use of public funds to prevent crime, promote public safety, and re-integrate offenders.”

“Achieving these goals requires much more complicated and sophisticated strategies both within the criminal justice system and beyond. The recent legislative efforts to reform criminal justice practices and sentencing laws have been based on data and research on how best to promote public safety and what has proven to work to prevent crime and reduce recidivism.”

“Clearly, there are people for whom a lengthy prison sentence is appropriate and deserved. There is also a clear recognition that some failed policies that have been major drivers of the growth in the prison population, like the war on drugs, need to be substantially redesigned.”

“The desire for effective criminal justice policy has driven bipartisan support for reforms both in Colorado and across the country, including the conservative Right on Crime project. To be sure, budget considerations have brought the need for criminal justice reform to the forefront and provided motivation to look at an issue many felt was too controversial to touch.”

“But in the eight years our organizations have been working on criminal justice issues, we have never seen saving money for its own sake as the driving force behind reform. Cost savings to the taxpayers is rather a beneficial byproduct of sound policy changes.”

“The murder of Tom Clements is a great tragedy. But just as we shouldn’t let tragedies panic us to rush through bad laws and policies, neither should we allow this great tragedy to derail the ongoing efforts towards a more effective and just system.”

“Christie Donner is executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition. Mike Krause is director of the Justice Policy Initiative at the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Denver.”


Thank you for your continued support of CCJRC!!

  Christie Donner, Executive Director

Pamela Clifton, Communications Coordinator

Ellen Toomey-Hale, Finance and Development Coordinator

John Riley, Coalition Coordinator



Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition

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1212 Mariposa St., #6
Denver, CO 80204
phone: (303) 825-0122
fax: (303) 825-0304

The Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC) is a non-profit organization that was formed to halt the exponential growth in the state prison population. CCJRC believes that we are currently overusing incarceration and that a comprehensive reevaluation of current criminal justice policy is necessary. We advocate for the expansion of funding for treatment, alternatives to incarceration, and reintegration services to people leaving prison. We also unconditionally oppose the use of for-profit prisons in Colorado.

CCJRC was founded in 1999 and currently consists of over 100 diverse organizations and faith communities and over 6,800 individuals from across the state.

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What’s New

CCJRC 2013 Legislative Update, April 3, 2013 (369k PDF)

CCJRC 2013 Legislative Update (182k PDF)

2012 Winter Newsletter (1.4mb PDF)

Summary of Criminal Justice Reform Legislation
Passed in the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 Sessions
 (623k PDF)

Never Going Back:7 Steps to Staying Out of Prison by Hassan A. Latif

Solitary Confinement Report (232k PDF)

CCJRC is proud to announce the release of its newest publication, Getting On After Getting Out: A ReEntry Guide for Colorado.

This 200 page book provides extensive information to help people prepare for release and successfully reintegrate back into their families and communities. This publication is helpful for people involved in the criminal justice system, their families, community service providers and criminal justice professionals.

Click to order or browse the table of contents (1.1mb PDF).

The Latest News from CCJRC

Think Outside the Cage
CCJRC’s blog which covers the latest news on prison related issues in Colorado.

The Colorado Justice Report
CCJRC’s quarterly newsletter.
Click here to view the most recent issue.

Get Involved

Become a member of CCJRC
Our members make CCJRC politically powerful and receive our quarterly newsletter, The Colorado Justice Report, action alerts, and announcements for community meetings and events.

Become an organizational endorser.

Help spread the word and tell a friend.

CCJRC is a member of Community Shares, a workplace giving program.Click here to find out more about workplace giving.

Current Cost of the U.S. War On Drugs

DrugSense Drug War Clock
Current Time
Federal Spent
State Spent
Total Spent
All Drug Arrests
Cannabis Arrests
The U.S. federal government spent over $19 billion dollars in 2003 on the War on Drugs, at a rate of about $600 per second. The budget has since been increased by over a billion dollars. State and local governments spent at least another $30 billion.

Someone is arrested every 20 seconds. Arrests for drug law violations in 2007 are expected to exceed the 1,678,192 arrests of 2003.








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