I love this. A Rocky Mountain News reporter was accessing her legal right to attend a public hearing of a parole revocation.
"But parole board hearing officer Celeste C de Baca then refused to allow the reporter to attend, citing jail rules giving the defense attorney the right to refuse access...
Parole board staff members told the Rocky this week that a parole revocation hearing scheduled for Friday at the Denver jail would be open to the public, and no special arrangements were required."
It's pretty bad when contracted parole hearing officers don't know the rules and are supposed to navigate through the myriad of technical violations and laws to decide whether someone has to go back to prison.
"Finally, Parole Board Chairman Stanley was tracked down. He called C de Baca to say the hearing was public. By then, it was over.
Stanley said that many parole hearings are conducted in prisons and jails because that's where the prisoners are. Wardens can deny access to anyone, he noted.
In Jefferson and Arapahoe counties, where jails are near the courthouse, parole hearings are in public courtrooms, he said.
"They should abide by the law" and allow the public to attend, said Christie Donner, director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.
But jail staffers refused to allow the reporter inside the locked gates without prior approval.
When contacted, Denver corrections director Bill Lovingier agreed the meeting was open to the public and informed his staff.
But Donner said "it's very, very difficult" for the public to go to hearings in jails and prisons.
Sometimes they are simply refused by the jail staff. Sometimes, they run afoul of unpublicized dress codes, such as no skirts above the knee, she said."