CCJRC Opposes Debt-Financed Prisons, Works to Reform Parole

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CCJRC Opposes Debt-Financed Prisons, Works to Reform Parole

March 25, 2003

In this update from the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition:

1. HB 1256 (CSP expansion bill) clears committee -- with amendments
2. SB 247 (parole reform) -- hearing rescheduled
3. Colorado CURE hosts public meeting on parole

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1. House Bill 1256 heads to the Senate floor

The Senate Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs approved HB 1256 (expansion of Colorado State Penitentiary through certificates of participation) yesterday by a vote of 5-2. The committee did, however, amend the bill. The committee amendment would place the certificates of participation (COP) before the voters (this November or in 2004, depending on legal opinions) as TWO separate questions: COPs for educational facilities at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center at Fitzsimons and COPs for an expansion of Colorado State Penitentiary.

This amendment can be rejected by the full Senate, so it is crucial to call your Senator TODAY, and tell him/her to vote NO on HB 1256. If your senator feels he or she cannot vote no, then tell them at a minimum, that the bill should be passed with the committee amendment which refers the questions to the voters.

For a listing of senators with phone and email, see the bottom of this email. If you don't know what senate district you live in, visit .

Talking Points:

--CSP II would not be a regular prison -- it would be operated on a control unit model. A new control unit prison is not needed! Colorado keeps dramatically more of its prisoners (6.5%) in control unit prisons than the national average (3.3%).

--The CSP II proposal is too expensive -- it would cost over $100 million in construction and debt service, and around $34 million a year to operate. Colorado can't afford this at a time when colleges may be closed and Medicaid is in jeopardy. The legislature should reform drug laws and promote alternatives to incarceration such as substance abuse treatment, mental health care, and community corrections.

--Prison population projections anticipate a shortage of 275 administrative segregation prison beds by 2008, yet CSP II would be 948 beds -- this is an expensive exercise in overkill!

--If this bill passes, it should be referred to the voters for approval, as required by our state constitutionās provisions concerning long term debt.

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2. Senate Bill 247 (parole reform) -- hearing rescheduled

SB 247, which would make several changes to Colorado's system of parole, was scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, but was snowed out. It could be up for a new hearing as early as Monday (3/31).

Please remember to contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (see below), and tell them to vote YES on SB 247 in committee (for more information about what SB 247 does, see our legislative session webpage at http://www.ccjrc.org/LS2003.html...

Talking points:

--Limiting reincarceration for a technical parole violation makes sense -- parole should be used to help people reintegrate into society, not to lengthen the time they serve in prison.

--When post-parole supervision was passed in HB 98-1160, there was no accompanying appropriation, despite a heated floor debate in the Senate. The Department of Corrections now estimates that implementing post-parole supervision will cost a minimum of $1.7 million in FY 2003-04. It's time to repeal this law.

--While technical violations may be indicative of a parolee who is having trouble, the response should not be to send someone back to prison. Intermediate sanctions are more conducive to successful reintegration and they cost less -- prison should be a last resort.

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3. Colorado CURE hosts parole forum

This Thursday (March 27) at 6:45 p.m., Colorado CURE will host Allan Stanley (chair of the State Board of Parole) and Jeaneene Miller (Director of Adult Parole and Community Corrections for the Department of Corrections) in a public forum for families and friends of prisoners. The event will take place at St. Paul's Lutheran Church at 1600 Grant St. in Denver, a block north of the Capitol. Fore more information contact Colorado CURE at (303) 758-3390...

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