Last week a Colorado Republican chose to change his stand, in the 11th hour, on a bill presented by Democratic Representative Kagan that would have brought Colorado into constitutional compliance regarding 48 juveniles serving life without parole sentences. Who knows what the reason for the last minute change but we can be assured that the republican party in Colorado does not value the law or the constitution of this nation even though they use that platform during election. Theses 48 people would be given a CHANCE, not a free pass. We, as the citizens of this state, would begin taking steps AWAY from vengeance and towards justice and we would begin with kids, the most amenable to rehabilitation. It was not to be.
The question is why? The prosecutors will tell you that they made a promise that these kids would never come out of prison. Let me tell you something. Not one prosecutor met these kids, spoke with them, they did not interview them, and they did not know anything of their family or their life until they got them into court. The prosecutor decided, solely at his own discretion, who would be transferred from juvenile court into adult court with adult consequences. That USED to be the way we meted justice to kids. (Juvenile transfer laws, as of 2014, now require a hearing before a juvenile case can be moved to adult court)
Maybe it was because of the platform issues that they used at election time. Maybe they were afraid that their constituents would be against holding up the constitution complying with the rulings of the high courts of this state. or giving kids a second chance. Maybe they were afraid to step outside the box or maybe they made a trade and these kids lost the lottery pull.....again.
Whatever the reason Colorado has some notoriety that it will have to deal with. Colorado is home to the most notorious Supermax prison in the country, ADX in Florence , CO. This facility has been the focus of many lawsuits for the overuse and prolonged use of solitary confinement and other conditions being challenged at this facility. While many have written about this, Colorado made the New York Times today.
The most recent telling information came in this statement: Colorado has more people in prison cells than in college dorms. Colorado is part of a group of 16 states that can boast the same statistics, all of them in the south.
Here is an excerpt from the article by David Love written for The Grio:
Let that sink in for a minute. More people behind bars than in the dorms. What could it be about the South that would explain this? Could it be a tradition of slavery, racial violence and Jim Crow segregation, a legacy of criminalizing and dehumanizing people and of just not treating folks very well?
Read the entire article and view the map here
And now we can add the public fact that Colorado refuses to address sentencing reform for these 48 people.
This legislation had strong community support. Advocates and victims were both in favor of this legislation. The legislators had their voicemails and email boxes filled by supporters yet they chose to kill the bill. The US Supreme court ruled that these sentences must be reformed. The Colorado Appellate court ruled that these sentences must be reformed yet they chose to kill the bill. The question remains why?
The citizens of this state are keeping track of how their representatives vote. The citizens are ready for reform and they will find those who are ready to help them achieve it.
Justice without compassion is vengeance.
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