Colorado Senator Pete Lee
Throughout my working career, I have volunteered for many local community based organization, including serving on the board of AspenPointe Health Services, (formerly Pikes Peak Mental Health), the Manitou and Pikes Peak Restorative Justice Councils and the Youth Transformation Center. These experiences have taught me about the challenges facing our fellow citizens.
Some of my most rewarding experiences were as a board member and board chair for Workout, Ltd. A local juvenile justice program, Workout found jobs for young people with legal troubles and returned 80% of the teen’s wages to their victims. Using hard work as a teaching tool, Workout helped more than 10,000 kids and returned $2 million to our community over 30 years. The recidivism rate for these kids has been less than 7%.
I am a concerned citizen with a passion for our community and a desire for public service. Far from a professional politician, I subscribe to Thomas Jefferson’s view of “citizen public servants” bringing their real-world experience to a public office for the benefit of the community. That is the spirit in which I serve the people of Colorado.
Having lived the last 40 years in this community working for hundreds of clients, serving a wide variety of people and organizations, I have come to know the needs, hopes, difficulties and aspirations of our citizens. I have talked to leaders, administrators and advocates about healthcare and access to it, public education, dropout and graduation rates, criminal justice, prison crowding and recidivism, water, roads and infrastructure, employment and training, and environmental concerns.
I am now ready to dedicate my full-time efforts to improving our community by creative, open minded thinking, by drawing upon the best ideas from whatever sources or philosophical arenas and working toward practical and effective resolutions of our communities challenges.
I attended college at Ohio Wesleyan University where I received a BA in 1970 with a double major in English and Politics & Government. I was elected to two academic honorary societies. After graduating I studied business and economics at the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania. In 1971, I took a leave of absence from Wharton and accepted a position with Superior’s Brand Meats, a multi-state meat packer in Ohio. At the same time, I began law school in the evenings at the University of Akron.
I received a Juris Doctor and the Bancroft Whitney Award for Civil Procedure at the University of Akron Law School, graduating in 1975. I moved to Colorado that summer and began working for the Holly Sugar Corporation.
To learn more about Pete, visit https://peteleecolorado.com/about-pete/meet-pete/
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File Name: Pete Lee final.
File Length: 47:20
Rob: Hey, everybody, thank you for tuning in to another episode of “Beyond the bars”, radio podcast part of the global Mental Health News Radio Network. I am truly excited to introduce Senator Pete Lee, and in his guest in the background there is his lovely dog. What’s your dog’s name Senator Lee?
Pete: I’ve got two of them. They’re both looking out the window because my wife just left and they’re despondent that they’re not with her, but Panda and Stan.
Rob: Alright, animals are welcome on the podcast show, my dog Max ends up here every now and then too. But just so, I will give you guys a quick background. Pete Lee and I met at the “Second chances hearing”, several years ago when they were trying to make April 2 chances month in Colorado, and I’m actually wearing my second chances five k shirt. He was generous with his time and said, hey, I’d love to know more”. I talked to him about some quick specific things which we’ll get more into later. But we’ve always been accessible and amiable, we’ve worked on a bill that got passed into law too, which we’ll talk about later. But give us an idea of kind of who is Senator Pete Lee? And I mean, you do so much, but how would you kind of encapsulate, kind of who’s Pete?
Pete: Well, thanks Rob, I appreciate it and I really do appreciate having worked with you and sponsoring some of these initiatives to give people second chances. So, I’ve been in the legislature, I’m going into my 10th year, I spent eight years in the house. And that entire time I was on the Judiciary Committee, and chaired it for the two final years. And now I’m in the Senate and Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. So, a lot of the work that I have done, probably 40, 50% of it is an area of criminal and juvenile justice reform, because prior to being in the legislature, I was a practicing lawyer that practice both in the area of business and transactions, but also in the area of criminal defense representing indigent defendants and thus I am grounded in how the criminal justice system functions or malfunctions in a lot of cases, and I’ve been trying to reform that since I’ve been there. So, I’ve sponsored probably somewhere around 50 bills to reform the criminal and juvenile justice system, including the two that you referenced in your introduction. I also have been an active volunteer in the community that whole time and one program I worked in called workout limited was a program to provide jobs and restitution for juvenile offenders who had gotten into trouble and owed money. And typically, with juvenile offenders, their parents pay restitution because they’re incapable of coming up with it. Workout limited, got jobs for juvenile offenders in the community, so they could actually work, earn the money and then we took 80% of their earnings to repay the victims of their crime. And the director came to us one day and said, “well, Pete, I would like to actually have the offenders deliver the check directly to the victim”. And I had the same reaction, you just had. Yeah, right. He said, “well, it’s called restorative justice, let’s try it out and see how it works”. So, I supported the executive director, and doing so and began going to the victim offender dialogues where they talked about repairing the harm to victims and the community arising from the offenses committed by juveniles. So, it wasn’t just the restitution, but the dialogue between victims and offenders was really compelling. It gave opportunities to victims to ask, you know, why did you do what you do? Why did you hurt me? Why did you steal my car? Why did you engage in this conduct? And get answers directly from offenders, which the criminal justice system doesn’t accommodate. But then it also gave the victims an opportunity to describe for the offenders the impact that the offense had on the victim. And as you know, from being around kids, a lot of young people don’t really think about the impact of what they’re doing before they’re doing it. And we know now from the science of brain development, that that is a physiological thing that the frontal lobe where consideration of consequences occurs, doesn’t develop until 25, 26, 28 years of age to have victims described to offenders. The actual impact is eye opening and transformative, and the final step is to develop a plan to repair the harm for the victims, oftentimes involving apology, acknowledgement of wrong and apologies and I know that’s big in the world that you work in as well, is acceptance of responsibility and moving forward, and second chances.
Rob: Most definitely, that is really cool to hear. And I can imagine the impact of that healing that would be on both sides, the victim side and the offender side. And have you ever seen like the case and like when maybe the victim says, “wow, this is really impressive what you’re doing, I’m so proud of you”. And just to say, you know what, you don’t owe me another dime going forward. Have you ever seen something like that happen to somebody?
Rob: You see that happen?
Pete: And it’s, I don’t know how else to describe it, Rob, but it’s a moment of grace that takes place oftentimes in those hearings and tipper in those victim offender dialogues and let me set it up a little bit for you because they’re conducted by trained skilled facilitators who have gone through training and restorative practices. The offender is pre conferenced and asked questions to ensure that they accept responsibility for what they did, and that they’re accountable. If they are not, they are not appropriate for restorative justice. But then the process for the victim is to enable them to really describe the impact, and then for the offender to come forth and describe how that has affected them. I have seen offenders get up in that circle and walk across the circle to the victim and stick out their hand and said, I’m really sorry, I apologize to you. And then I’ve seen victims stand up and literally embrace and say, I forgive you. It’s something that does not happen in the criminal justice system with any degree of frequency at all. And it’s a moment where it empowers the victim to begin healing and it empowers the offender to go on with their lives, having engaged in a process of redemption.
Rob: That is a beautiful picture. Thanks for kind of bringing that back a little bit further and then bringing this forward. That was one of those goosebumps stories. So–
Pete: Yeah, and you know, I could go on because I’ve been to scores, maybe hundreds of these conferences and not just with low level offenses, but we have had victim offender dialogue, 20 of them now in Colorado, after a bill that I wrote to allow victims who have offenders in the Department of Corrections who have committed the most heinous crimes, to enable the victim to go in and talk with the killers of their wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, children, and the Department of Corrections, has allowed those conferences to take place with absolutely extraordinary outcomes. And I can tell you one case that was pretty well known, was a lady by the name of Charlotte Evans, who lost her three-year-old baby in a gang inspired drive by shooting. And 20 years later, she wanted to meet the then young offenders, they were 16 years old, they who were serving life without parole, and she wanted to meet them, and talk with them and find out what kind of men they had grown up to be. And at the end of one of those discussions, she said, “before this conference, all I could think about was my son’s death”, he died in her arms after this drive by shooting. Now, I can think about my baby’s life.
Pete: So, it changed her perspective or way of looking at the world. And she now has, I know it’s surprising Rob, but a relationship with one of those juvenile offenders who’s still in prison. But it gave her an opportunity to begin this process of healing and moving on. The restorative justice has driven a lot of the work that I’ve done in the Department of Corrections. Some of the other work that I’ve done has been to alter this mass incarceration that has developed in Colorado over the past 25 years. And just to illustrate back in the mid 1970’s, when Colorado had about 2 million people, and the number of people in the department of correction was around, I don’t really know the exact number. It was around 3500 people, and now in 2019, we’re about five and a half million people, the population is going up, double, we have more than doubled, we have 20,000 people. So, from 35 to 20,000 people, so it has gone up six times, five, six times. And that’s because of conscious policy choices made by people in the legislature to keep putting more people in prison for longer periods of time for more types of crime, and then to put them back in when they fail on probation and parole. So, the Department of Corrections budget this year, will for the first time exceed $1 billion in Colorado.
Rob: That’s mind blowing.
Pete: It is.
Rob: It is truly, and course I have my own opinion on the journey I went through in the prison system too, but I want people to be able to like tap into what you do. So, what’s the best way for people to kind of get streamlined into, “hey, what’s Pete up to”. How do they, you know, email list or check your website or something.
Pete: All of the above, my website is peteleecolorado.com, and they can sign up for my newsletters which are somewhat irregular. As you know, we are not highly staffed at the legislature.
Pete: We work these young people who work for us very hard and we try to get out or email our newsletters about once a month. But people can see some of my work is described in that website peteleecolorado.com.
Rob: Yeah, I’m on it now. Just scrolling, scrolling. So Pete, that’s one of the things I love about you, is the criminal justice reform. And one thing just for our listeners, they’ve heard me talk about this on my show, and other instances but the senator I had referred to in this journey was, you know, Pete. Pete and I thought it was probably three and a half years ago or so we met and just kind of stayed in touch with you. You gave me some advice along the ways, like, Rob, try doing this, try doing this because right now, but one of the things because of my crime, where I owed, you know, $187,000 in interest, and I, when I met you, I was like, hey, Pete, you know, here’s the thing, and a couple other, you know, house representatives and senators I met along the way. You said, I’m upside down like $1800 a month with interest in what I can afford to pay. And the common question was, well, how do you get out from underneath this? Right. And, I know you had gotten involved in a bill kind of towards the end of the bill that Gutierrez and Melton had started too, and you were a part of that and you and I started talking at the rise, it was going into sessions, is that what I should say?
Rob: And we got to talk, but It was one of those things that like how do we at least make it less burdensome in some ways or make it more fair for both sides. So, the victim side and the offender side, and you and I were able to be a part of the bill, house bill, I forgot the name of it now. 19-1301, I think is what it was, bill on restitution, and it was so cool that we’re able to get the interest rate dropped from 12 to 8%. For people and even talking about the juveniles, you’re talking about in anyone incarcerated that they’re no longer charged interest starting January 1 2020, while they are behind bars and incarcerated, and it was just so cool to be a part of a bill coming in the law, and just your availability to talk to me for the last three and a half years and now, it was just really a great experience to be a part of that. So, thank you for all you’re doing, it has not only helped my family out of time, but 10’s of thousands of people, on restitution in Colorado, it just makes it a little fairer. I have some other things I want to work on, and another point which I’ll email you and the other two about, but there’s always work to be done. And you just, how do you balance it all?
Pete: Well, I still, you know, I’m, as I said, coming into my 10th year in the legislature, Rob and I still have the fire in the belly, I still have the enthusiasm, I still see, you know, injustices and I still see worthy people who are devastated by the incarceration system that we’ve developed. I mean, we need to have a system that puts dangerous people behind bars and keep them away from society. We also though, need to have a system that acknowledges that when people have paid their dues to society, that they can move on with their lives and put it what they did in the past behind them. You know, the idea behind restitution is to compensate victims for the losses that they have incurred. At some point though, we have to acknowledge that people are not defined by the worst thing that they did in their life, particularly young people, we now know that the adolescent brain doesn’t develop fully until age 25 to 30. And that the ideas of self-regulation, self-control anticipation of consequences aren’t part of the operating brain of juveniles, and 18, 19, 20 years old. So, a lot of those people have committed some darn serious offenses. But then because of the incarceration system we’ve developed have been sentenced to 20, 40, 60 years in prison, and they are different people now from the people they were when they committed those offenses, and does it profit a society? Does it benefit a society to keep people warehouse behind bars for that amount of time? We have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, we measure incarceration rate by the number of people behind bars per hundred thousand. I think the world average is around 160. And the Colorado average is five to 600, we incarcerate people in Colorado, three to four times as many people in Colorado as other countries in the world and the loss to society, the devastation to families who have lost a member of their family is staggering. The collateral consequences of that are just overwhelming. We create, you know, one person, one parent families by this massive system of incarceration. And then what’s worse, we make it very difficult for people who have a criminal record, to reintegrate back into the community by what we call collateral consequences, certain jobs you can’t hold, if you have a criminal record, certain loans that are available to people are not available to people with criminal records.
Pete: We passed a bill last year called “Ban the Box”, because some employers had a check mark on the application form, back in the day of regular application forms it was an actual box, online applications you put an X if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony. Well, that was typically a fast path to the delete button. So, we have people who have committed offenses, who don’t get an opportunity to describe their rehabilitation and their skills and talents and potential contribution to society. So, you know, there are certain people that deserve to be behind bars, they’re antisocial, they’re psychopathic psychopaths. But there are also people who committed offenses, who have paid their price, pay their dues, serve their time, and said have an opportunity to get out. The other big group of people we have behind bars, Rob are people with mental illness and drug addictions. The Colorado Department of Corrections has become the biggest institution for mentally ill in the state of Colorado. And we don’t have excellent programs to address mental illness and drug addiction in the Department of Corrections. It’s difficult to get therapists who want to work in that sort of environment. Many therapists say, it’s not a therapeutic environment, you can’t make a lot of progress on mental illness counseling in an incarcerated situation. So, there’s a lot of things to deal with. You asked me what drives me. There’s a lot of things that we can do to make this system work better, more effectively, more efficiently, consistent with public safety.
Rob: Yeah. It’s the environments that are conducive to, to rehab. I mean, I personally, my own personal opinion, is I look at the prison system as just a big business. And there’s so many other ways to help people, like getting into a rehab center or treatment center that want that. Some don’t want it, right? They are in the system, and that’s just the term, I don’t know how you feel about the term institutionalized. But there’s a way to institutionalize people and get them on the right track.
Pete: Yeah. Well, with all due respect, the new director of Colorado’s Department of Corrections executive director, Dean Williams, was brought in from Alaska by Governor Jared Polis. And he is taking a good hard look at Colorado’s Department of Corrections system and is in fact making significant changes, driven by what he calls a philosophy of normalization to make the experience. His view is that the fact of incarceration is a punishment. We don’t need to punish people further by what happens to them in the Department of Corrections. 97% of the people are going to get out of the Department of Corrections. So, the role that he views himself and his correctional officers as having, is to provide opportunities for the people in the department of corrections to make the changes in their lives and their attitudes and their thinking processes, so that they can integrate themselves back into the communities from which they came successfully. So, they can earn a living, so they can pay taxes so they can become yours and my neighbors, which they are going to do.
Rob: Amen to that. That is amazing. I would love to meet him and just sit down with him someday and–
Pete: Invite him for an interview.
Pete: I’d be surprised if he didn’t do it. He is very out there. He’s very approachable. He accepts invitations. And when we’re done with this, I can you connect you to the P.I.O Officer of Department of Corrections, and she’ll reach out to him, see if I can get him to come on board.
Rob: Yeah, that would be great. I love just people that are being proactive and making change like you are and back to the band, the box thing I will tell you that like in my own journey of coming out, you know, when I was living in a halfway house and all this stuff that it was amazing. How many job opportunities that I had where I go in and they say, hey, when I sit for the interview, they’d say, you know what, we’d love to hire you. Let’s get you through the background check. And I’m like, before you do that, let me tell you my story really quick. And I would tell them what happened, you know, and they’d say, Wow, it sounds like you’ve really moved beyond that, we’d still love to hire you. You just have to get the background check done. And after the ninth rejection, you know, because I’m out of a family of young kids and stuff. I was like, you know what, I need to start my own business which a lot of people who are felonies do. So, that’s what I did, that’s how I got into doing interventions and addiction coaching and doing the work I do and involved with prison fellowship. So, it was those things that like, is it an obstacle or is it an opportunity? And what I was looking at was opportunities.
Pete: And I would suggest it’s both. It’s an obstacle which creates an opportunity, a bill that we passed two years ago, I believe, called Justice Reinvestment crime reduction. With the ABLE assistance and impetus of the Colorado criminal justice reform coalition, Christie Donner and her group of talented community organizers. The bill basically put money back into the communities to communities that were affected by crime, so that the communities can decide what they want to do to prevent crime from occurring. It’s called Community Reinvestment. So, we got money out of the Department of Corrections and put it into North Aurora and Southeast Colorado Springs. And the people from those communities got together on weekends and decided what they needed to do to prevent crime from occurring. One of the things they decided on was to develop entrepreneur training programs for returning people from the Department of Corrections. And there is in Colorado Springs now a solid rock Community Foundation run by a local minister, which trains formerly incarcerated men and women to operate their own businesses to give them the skills that you may have had originally, but a lot of people don’t have. It acknowledges that a lot of the people coming out of the Department of Corrections have a lot of skills and talents, they may have been misdirected and misguided. But this course put on by Pastor Ben at Solid Rock Community Church teaches entrepreneurial skills. And I would suggest I believe that dozens of independent businesses have been formed by formerly incarcerated men and women who now have an opportunity to make it on their own and they don’t have to deal with that box which ban them from employment opportunities.
Rob: That’s exciting. I look forward to all these nuggets of wisdom coming out and I’m like okay, we’re going to reach out to him later. And just all these people that are doing great things, and we were talking before the podcast started just kind of see what other things you’re working on too. One of them was you were talking about the “Smart Heroes program”, which I thought was really cool, going on down in the Springs. Tell people about that.
Pete: Sure. Well, I just this morning attended a graduation exercise for 15 soldiers who are finishing their time in the military at Fort Carson, who were recruited into the sheet metal workers apprentice training program, and they went through that apprentice training program, and now they are going to be moving into the higher levels to become journeyman sheet metal workers. So, the saying that they used is from serving our country to serving our communities, from military service to community careers. We have somewhere around 2 to 300 people leaving Fort Carson the military base, I think weekly, maybe monthly, and some of them go home but some of them stay in our communities. Well, Colorado wants to be a military friendly state, the most military friendly state and one thing we can do to help them do that is enable them to find links to jobs. There’s another organization here in Colorado Springs doing similar work and it’s called the Mount Carmel Center of Excellence, run by a gentleman by the name of Robert McLaughlin, who’s a former Fort Carson base commander and it’s a public Private Partnership, one stop shop for veterans so that they can address any issues that they have in the military, and develop opportunities for apprentice training programs, internships, and transition from service to career. So, there’s a lot going on, and these are just some of the components of the ones that are going on here in Colorado Springs, but they each have statewide components as well. There are other organizations doing the same thing, and I know that sheet metal workers have this Heroes program going on, I believe in Denver, and they may be moving over to Grand Junction as well.
Rob: That’s great to know because I know people all over the State and I can help tap those people in too but just giving people that broad scope that you don’t, you’re not and the criminal justice is a big passion or heart of yours. But when you’re talking about helping, you know, that’s just, you know, getting them, helping them, endorsing them, get behind them, and just hearing what’s going on. That was just really, a cool story you were sharing earlier. So, I wanted people to hear that because I actually met a guy when I spoke a couple weeks ago at an event that we’re sort of talking about this idea, that he needed help in and now I have a source to kind of guide him towards.
Pete: Sure, and I’d be happy to give you, you know, specific contact information from some of the people who can, you know, you can actually give them email addresses to follow up with. The one on Ben Henderson with the Transforming Safety, the Solid Rock Community Foundation, there’s a website, transformingsafety.org and if people want to look on that website, they can see some of the, I believe 44 nonprofit organizations that have received significant funding and I’m talking six figures of funding from this Transforming Safety grants to help kids. We have a question program, Rob, that provides conflict resolution skills for elementary school kids. They can help figure out how to solve their problems peacefully, collaboratively, and restoratively in the schools. We have programs to keep kids in school, we have programs to teach kids interviewing skills and community building skills. There are extraordinary programs to help kids direct their lives into positive endeavors and adults.
Rob: Yeah, so I want to encourage people listening, share this podcast interview with your circle of influence because there’s people that you know, that need to hear this. They may have a kid that needs some help or adult is stuck in that area or a victim that wants some restoration and they don’t know where to go, they’re like, bring some kind of peace or comfort to their situation in their life. So, lots of opportunities here to tap into what’s Pete’s doing. Tell us a little bit about the second 30:06 [inaudible], I think you’re mentioning that too, what does that look like?
Pete: Sure. Well, when you and I were talking, I was describing, I do a lot of work, just sort of volunteer work in the prisons. And one of the most successful programs in the prisons is the Stephen Covey program of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Well, one of the former directors of prisons in Colorado, Jerry Glasgow, who had no shrinking violet, he had been the director of Leavenworth Federal Prison, then retired, came to Colorado and worked as director of prisons. And he was a firm believer in the Seven Habits program. So, I began going to some of those classes on Seven Habits held in Colorado’s correctional institutions and I met men of character who were the core groups teaching the skills of seven habits. For those who don’t know it, Seven Habits was a self-improvement, self-help, personal development program, put together by Stephen Cove, I don’t know 20, 30 years ago, and he read through all the self-help literature of Norman Vincent Peale, and How to Win Friends and Influence People and all those scores of programs and synthesize them into Seven Habits of Highly Effective People and became a court management training program, which Jerry Glasgow then brought into the prisons.
Well, during my time working in the state legislature, they periodically asked me to come down to the prisons to deliver graduation addresses to the people who are finishing those programs. And during that time, I have met just some extraordinary people who you would think were members of the local rotary club or the Lions Club or the Chamber of Commerce or a church vestry board member. I mean, these are people of character and significance, who made very serious mistakes early in their lives and are making the best of their lives in the prison. I believe people who have been model prisoners, who have taken advantage of Department of Corrections rehabilitation programs, and have done the work to change their lives, should have an opportunity to have their sentence reassessed, to see if it is still serving the interests of justice and serving the community.
So, I’ve put together a bill along with Serena Gonzalez-Gutierrez, who you know from working on that other bill, called Second-Look Parole to give an opportunity for some of these men and women who have changed their lives and have not committed go to penal discipline violations during their time in the prison, an opportunity to have their sentence or an opportunity for parole earlier than they would normally get. And these are people in that 18 to 24-year-old category, who we know, because of the development of a brain science research, have not, when they were, you know, younger, had the skills and physiological development to be able to control their impulsive behavior. I mean, some people do, and some people don’t. So, there are scores, I would say of people in the Department of Corrections, who should have an opportunity to now that they’ve changed and matured and rehabilitated, to be considered for re-entry into our community rather than been warehoused in the Department of Corrections, interminably. So, that’s what Second-Look will do. It’ll give people opportunity to have a parole board` take a second look whether they should stay in prison.
Rob: I love that, and I highly do, I love the Seven Habits. Do you know Jeff Carney here in Colorado?
Pete: I do. I’ve worked very closely with him.
Rob: Yeah. So, Jeff, yeah, so I took Seven Habits in Delta, I took 11 of the life learning classes that they offered in when I was in Delta. So, there are good programs there for your loved ones that are incarcerated, to get help and change and become a better man, a better woman. So, but they did offer the Seven Habits in delta and I took it and I wanted to, like meet like, because I heard Jeff Carney and someone said, hey, you should meet Jeff, when you get out, he’s in Colorado. So I reached out to him and its so funny how God works because he and I just became good friends afterwards and talked and I interviewed him on the show and he was trying to help me get started as a facilitator and things just didn’t work out for a couple reasons. But this last school year, my daughter ended up running cross country and there’s an email, I see that the cross-country coach is Jeff Carney.
Pete: Oh, okay.
Rob: And so, we got to see each other like every week after that, because he had to be at my daughter’s cross-country coach here in Colorado.
Pete: Things works in unusual and unpredictable ways, doesn’t it?
Rob: Oh my gosh, just everyone needs someone for various reasons. But Seven Habits is a life changing–. So, I’m looking forward to following that bill and yeah, I mean, if, I mean, I’ll check it out, because I’d like to get involved in stuff that you’re doing too. And it was such a life changing thing for me, in a lot of ways too, I didn’t need a lot of correction when I went into the system. I just had a major mental breakdown and my eyes were open. I’m like, oh, my gosh, I can see what happened along the way. Always a work in progress, too so–
Pete: We all are, Rob, you know, we hope to be better tomorrow than we were yesterday. And, I would urge you to when that bill comes up before the committee to come in and testify about how that one personal development program, Seven Habits helped you because I think a lot of the men and some of them are, you know, gray haired mature like us, who did things when they were young, 20 years ago, have had life changing experiences by working in Seven Habits and working with other inmates to help them see the benefit of, you know, living a proactive life and learning to anticipate consequences and thinking about how to make changes in their communities.
Rob: I will definitely do that; I will follow it and I will love to come in and be a part of that too. So, thanks for bringing that up. And you mentioned earlier about people paying their dues to society. If I could bring this back to the interest on restitution thing for just a second. Because I wrote that down, I was like, some people in Colorado, that restitution, you know, we made our, we messed up, we owe what we owe, right? When you look at this idea of restitution, and some people, including myself, if we’re making the payments we’re paying now, we’ll actually make our payments until we die, 50 years from now, still be making payments on restitution. You know, do you feel like there might be room for like, some adjustment to that? Like, if you have like, when does that come to paying their dues to society? Is it 10, 15 years of paying restitution and say I’ve done all I can or is it literally kind of a life sentence of paying restitution till you die and there is no end in sight until you hit the hit the grave? That’s what I see with that for myself and a lot of people I know that are in that boat, what are your thoughts around that? If you want to answer it now or maybe that’s an offline conversation?
Pete: Yeah. Well, I’d like to do, preliminarily, I could give me some thoughts on that, but I’d like to explore that with you offline as well. You know, I think at some point, restitution becomes less of a benefit and more of a burden for a society if it continuously shackles a person and prevents them from moving on with their lives. And I’m talking specifically about cases in which people’s parole or probation is not allowed to terminate, because they still owe restitution, fines, fees and costs. And in some cases, the efforts to collect all that outweighs the ultimate benefit of recovering it, without diminishing the needs of victims who have suffered tangible financial losses. And, you know, they should be compensated for that. But I think the continuation of parole and probation, interminably for people who have, you know, made content system payments over an extended period of time. That doesn’t fully comport with a sense of justice and an endpoint, as you phrase it, at what point have you paid your dues? As you know, if people continue on parole and probation, for whatever reason, payment of, non-payment of restitution, fines, fees and costs, and they do anything wrong, they are in deeper jeopardy again.
Well, I would suggest that we all do things wrong, we all roll through stop signs, we all put our foot on the accelerator, you know, in excessive speed limits, we all, you know, do things that are wrong. If you follow a person closely, 24 hours a day, they’re going to do something wrong, if they’re on parole or probation, they’re subject to revocation and they’re subject to being returned to DLC. So, fines, fees and costs, maybe we should decide whether or not those should be an eternal sentence or whether at some point, we maybe convert them to a liquidated judgment and figure out a better way to address it.
Rob: Yeah, there’s no easy answer for that, by any means whatsoever. And I just want to encourage people, there’s anything that’s come up in this whole entire conversation today with Senator Lee, myself, you can feel free to reach out to us, you know, Pete through his website, myself, you know, you just, you guys have my contact info, you can always just call me up at 970-331-4469 to just talk through stuff and figure out what, how can you get involved in things you want to see change with, instead of being a backseat driver that just complains all the time, like, you got to take action.
Pete: Yeah. And, you know, I really admire you, Rob, for what you did, in terms of coming to the legislature, contacting Representative Cole, and myself and said, look, here’s a problem, is there a way we can work through this? Here’s some ideas that I have. A lot of the work that we do in the legislature, the catalyst for our citizens who come forth and say, hey, this isn’t working very well for me, these are some thoughts I have, can you, can we work on this together to try to figure out a better way to make them work? We are in this republican form of government, the representatives of the people, myself, my 99 colleagues in the Senate and House, are you, that have been, have taken on this responsibility to represent the citizens for a period of time. And the best legislation is oftentimes the legislation that’s going to solve the problems of people that are living life every day and dealing with the stresses and strains and impediments that life throws up.
And we can make it better, we can make it better and that’s what government is designed to do is to help people make their lives better. And we’re the ones that build the roads and hopefully, you know, over time we’ll be able to repair them. But we’re the ones who provide money for the school system, we’re the ones that, we, when I say we, I’m saying we who are the public service working in the government, are the ones who try to keep your air and your water clean, we’re the ones that try to ensure public safety by passing laws to, you know, ensure the law enforcement have the tools that they need, and that people can get rehabilitated. You know, we’re the ones that work in the area of health care, to try to expand the availability, accessibility and affordability of health care treatment. So, you know, we, in the government are public servants doing the work that the people have asked us to do. So, I encourage the activism that you demonstrated by all of your listeners to find out who their state representatives are, who their state senators are, and call them up, write to them, email them, swing by their offices, come up to the legislature while we’re in session, January through May and talk to us about what we’re doing right and what we’re doing wrong or what we could do better.
Rob: Yeah, well, the accessibility is great, and it needs that comfort to just say, just go, just merely, can say is, work on something or we tried that or a lot of that’s interesting. So, encourage people to be an activist for your own passions, desires, things on your heart that you see, you want changed, instead of being on the bus that just, like I just say, just kind of complains and wise and like, well, you’ll be an, you know, an advocate for your own change that you want to see and it may come to fruition, but I mean, it took me, you know, it took three years to just connecting with you and other ones because there’s other priorities and things, you know, going on to just stay in front of and I never felt like I got shot down or discouraged. It was like, okay, it’s not the right time, but when the right time is, boom, and then things happen, and it’s pretty cool. So, yeah, expect to see me around there, you know, during sessions, and it’s fascinating to watch it happen. I mean, holy cow, it is a lot. Your days are longer in that time. So, how do you, kind of last question. So, I mean, I’m sure you get calls and emails and pulled in different directions like Pete, blah, blah, blah, Pete’s this, Pete’s great, Pete’s that, not all those things in the balance of your life, how do you, what is your self-care look like for you, like what do you do for Pete?
Pete: Okay, well, I’ve been married to Lynn for, gosh, 30 years, and that brings great joy and companionship to my life and she works in the area of restorative justice as a trainer and as a facilitator. So, we share our passion for that. I’m also a happy skier, I love to get up on the top of those big hills and point the skis downhill and breathe that fresh air and just get up into nature. I live in Colorado Springs, and the backdrop is the mountains, so I hike, I go out and hike every day and spend time, you know, communing with nature and living in this absolutely magnificent environment that we call Colorado. I have these marvelous dog friends who you heard at the beginning and, you know, it’s really fun to have canine companions, I swim periodically, I go over to the pool and, you know, swim some laps and to me that’s a, sort of a moving meditation to do that. So, that’s how I do it. And I, you know, I try not to get stressed out about things that happen at the Capital, we can only do what we can do and you know, we can do the best we can do. And at the end of the day, if we don’t get some things done, there’s tomorrow. And so, that’s how I, what my self-care is, is try, to develop some healthy attitudes and stay physically and spiritually involved with the world that I’m in.
Rob: Oh, cool, well you could tell when you see you, like you look like you’re in very good shape too. And you see some people in political offices that just don’t have much self-care whatsoever. But I can look at you and tell that that’s one of the things that you do love doing. So, I just want to say, you’re an amazing man, keep up the great work. I’m personally grateful for all the work that you do. But from a State standpoint, I know the State’s proud of you too, for all the hard work that you’re doing, and you’re definitely bringing change to people’s lives. So, God bless you in your efforts and blessings pour upon you and favor in your world.
Pete: Well, thanks very much and thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about it and to invite your listeners to become active in this process, we’re all in this community together and, you know, we can’t do it alone. We need to do it with helpers and aides and our fellow citizens. So, thank you, Rob, for the work you’ve been doing.
Rob: Very cool, enjoy the beautiful weather in the springs today.
Pete: Okay, have a great one. Bye now.