Colorado is ranked 18th in the nation for having the highest incarceration rates!

This is one of the many shocking facts that we covered in our October 27th forum on “Offenders: The Challenges to Re-Entry and Reintegration.” We are grateful for the amount of curiosity and liveliness that our participants showed.

Dr. Elise Flesher, Research Analyst at the Longmont Police Department, covered some facts regarding why incarceration rates have risen, and how we got to this point of a 70% incarceration rate. Elise said that incarceration began as a way “of taking offenders out of immoral settings and putting them in a moral setting as a way for them to reflect. However, it turns out that this approach only makes them go mad.” What is needed is more support program for offender re-entry.

Joy Eckstine, Executive Director of the Bridgehouse, reported that 50 billion dollars is spent on incarceration and that it is a growing problem in supporting offenders returning into the community so that they don’t return to jail. What we can do now is support those offenders by encouraging the community to help encourage offenders with resources to keep them on track.

Tim Schaaf, Case Manager at the Boulder Shelter Programs, brought to our attention how hard basic resources are to come by for released offenders. For example, most leasing agencies will not allow anyone with a charge to rent from them. Schaaf gave an example of a man who was charged with an armed robbery ten years ago, but still cannot find housing despite the positive changes he has made in his life.

Jose Nieves, represented the population of released offenders. Jose presented to us a heartfelt story of his challenges in re-entry. What he described most was his concern for his family’s well-being and how much support they needed from him. He brought a very touching, very real, story of what it means to face the challenges of returning back into the community.  

We would also like to thank our facilitator, Leslie Ogeda, of the Community Justice Services, for her participation.