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Coalition Seeks Ways to 'Break Out' of State's Prison Crisis

January 26, 2007

Colorado's jails are overflowing and creating a crisis situation in the state's prison system. A broad coalition of legislators, organizers and public safety professionals are speaking at a press conference at the Capitol today (FRIDAY) to encourage finding solutions for decreasing the prison population. Comments from Christie Donner with the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition, and Mary Ellen Johnson with the Pendulum Foundation.

Prison growth in Colorado is a runaway train, and it's on a collision course with disaster - that's the message from over a dozen legislators, community organizers and public safety professionals speaking at the Capitol today. Christie Donner is the executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition:

"Prisons are full, we are in a crisis position. We've started to ship prisoners out of state again, we have 480 people currently out in a private prison in Oklahoma."


Donner says Governor Ritter won't be able to deliver on his campaign promises to improve education and health care in the state without curbing growth in the Department of Corrections budget.

From Libertarians to Liberals, Coloradans are concerned about the state's overflowing prison system. Speakers from across the political spectrum, including legislators, community organizers and public safety professionals are discussing the problem today at the Capitol in Denver. Mary Ellen Johnson with the Pendulum Foundation says one part of the solution is to overhaul sentencing for juveniles...

"They can be put in diversionary programs and that would save a large amount of money. In the long-run, it would increase public safety."


Johnson says promoting other alternatives, like restorative justice programs, could also take some of the pressure off the prisons. Overcrowding within the corrections system has forced some prisoners to be shipped to private prisons out-of-state.

A coalition of groups says prison growth in Colorado is a runaway train, and it's on a collision course with disaster. Eric Mack has more...



Mary Ellen Johnson is at 720-314-1402. Christie Donner is at 303-825-0122. The press conference "Jails Are Full! Now What?" will be held today (FRIDAY) from 1 - 2 p.m. in the third floor media room of the State Capitol.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - CO