State Rep Engages Blogosphere on Prisons

State Representative Morgan Carroll, already known for having an active blog of her own, has taken her concerns about Colorado’s out of control prison budget and its causes to the blogosphere with a lengthy post on the subject at online Colorado political community Square State.

While many Internet-savvy politicians have appealed for the vote and contributions of bloggers, only a few, like U.S. Representative John Conyers and U.S. Senator (and 2008 Presidential race hopeful) Russ Feingold, have gone further and taken their policy messages directly to the public via the Internet.Some highlight of Representative Carroll’s message include the following (emphasis in the original):

The single largest uncontrolled cost driver in Colorado’s state budget has been corrections ($644 million). It is not because salaries are extraordinary, it’s because prison populations are. . . . The criminal model (prohibition) for substance use / abuse problems (a) hasn’t worked and (b) is driving an overwhelming percentage of our prison population at staggering cost to the taxpayers. . . . As of 2003 at 16% of the prison population was characterized as having serious mental illness. . . . Colorado passed a law in 1985 which categorically doubled the maximum sentence on all felonies, which also substantially increased the minimum sentence for felonies. Furthermore, Colorado now has a mandatory sentencing structure which removes most discretion for judge’s to individualize the appropriate sentence to fit the crime and the offender. . . .  28% of parolees who returned to prison were revoked for technical reasons and not because they had committed a new crime. . . . Bluntly, I oppose private prisons. . . . Placing such a disproportionate amount of our resources on non-violent crimes has hurt our ability to apprehend and prosecute violent ones.

Democrat Morgan Carroll (D-36 Arapahoe County), the sitting vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, who is an attorney, will have a real say in these issues, assuming that she is re-elected.

She is unopposed in the primary election which concludes this Tuesday.  In the general election this year, her official opponent, Republican Brian Boney, apparently dropped out of the race for personal and professional reasons in January, and has terminated his candidate committee (Coloradans for Brian Boney), although the Secretary of State still lists him as a candidate.

Brian Boney is a solo practicing Aurora attorney (his solo practice is a year and a half old after previous work for law firms) who specializes in family law, criminal defense law and personal injury law, an unusual practice for a Republican candidate, who had been seen as a potentially tough challenger for Carroll.

In 2004, Carroll won her race, in the same district, against Republican Jim Parker, by 13,159 votes to 10,676 votes (i.e. about 55% of the vote).  In 2002, Democrat Frank Weddig defeated Republican Jim Parker in the District by a vote of 7,885 to 6,650 (i.e. 54% of the vote).  In 2004, 47% of House District 36 voters chose President Bush in the Presidential race.

House District 36 includes most of the territory South of Colfax and North of Hampden, between I-225 and E-470, including all of the Buckly Air National Guard base.  It is all, or almost all, in a suburban part of the City of Aurora (as opposed to the more urban “Original Aurora” portion of the City, and possibly some small pockets of Centennial or unincorporated Arapahoe County).

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