The Colorado Department of Corrections has been advancing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the organization by establishing the GRAACE (Gender, Race, Ability, Awareness, Culture, Equity) Alliance. The GRAACE Alliance is made up of CDOC staff, incarcerated individuals, formerly incarcerated individuals and external stakeholders and advocates, who all provide their unique perspective on enhancing EDI in the Department.
This working group has been developed to evaluate and examine the current climate of the CDOC culture through the lens of equity for all and identify opportunities to improve the CDOC system. The Alliance has begun by asking tough questions. What don’t we know about what we don’t know? Do we have policies and procedures currently in place that perpetuate inequality? Are we doing something because we have just always done it that way even though a change is warranted? The only way to know is to thoughtfully review and reflect on current practices and develop a clear action plan for any areas that need improvement.
The GRAACE Alliance Mission is: “To educate, inform and inspire diversity, equity, equality and inclusion in order to build a stronger and more effective culture by examining our policies and practices and fostering an environment of mutual respect and mindfulness to create safer facilities, work environments and communities.”
In order to help meet that mission, GRAACE has created specific committees to evaluate the current climate and suggest meaningful changes.
Those committees include:
Research & Survey
The research & survey subcommittee includes staff from various positions in the agency. This committee is currently working on drafting and delivering avenues for feedback from CDOC stakeholders on the current culture within CDOC and any perceived barriers towards EDI.
- Education & Training
This committee is developing new staff training (initially focused on having difficult conversations) as well as reviewing current staff training to identify any areas of improvement as it relates to EDI.
- Incarceration & Equity
This committee is working to create opportunities for staff and people who are currently or formerly incarcerated to feel comfortable and empowered to call attention to inequities, and to ensure that a wide variety of voices and lived experiences are included in the EDI conversation.
The policy committee is tasked with investigating and suggesting revisions, additions, and abolitions of Administrative Regulations through an EDI lens, informed by data and a broad range of perspectives. This committee is looking at ways to include those who are most impacted by a policy in the policy development and revision process.
- Communications & Outreach
This committee is focused on aligning the department’s values with its internal and external messaging to stakeholders, as well as incorporating EDI messaging into the broader aims of prison normalization.
The GRAACE Alliance provides monthly updates to DOC staff and will be looking at ways to provide those regular updates to incarcerated individuals and external stakeholders in the near future.