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Long Story Short

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It's undoubtedly safer to walk down many Colorado streets at night, given some of the people the state keeps locked away.

Joelene Hartman, a 28-year-old now imprisoned in Denver, does not seem to be one of those people.

A shy, soft-spoken mother of four, Hartman ran away as a teenager and has wrestled with drug addiction ever since. She gave birth to her youngest child in November 2006, just after starting a 10-year prison sentence on drug-possession charges.

As always, whether that kind of punishment makes sense considering Hartman's crimes mostly damaged herself and her own family is debatable. The reality of her sentence, however, was anything but. So, with hopes of shortening that sentence, Hartman volunteered for the state's prison boot camp.

Operating out of Buena Vista, it's designed to turn inmates' lives around through 90 days of push-ups, marching drills and strict discipline.

Hartman considered it a good program until she suffered an injury misdiagnosed for months and started a long battle to get the medical help she needed. Now, she faces a lifetime of medical problems.

Her story (starting on p. 18) raises questions about how much offenders might give up for sentence reductions, and whether those sacrifices are worth it.

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