Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?

Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Parole on Probation?

Members of Colorado’s Parole Board suggest there may be a number of reasons why the percentage of state prison inmates receiving early parole has been inching higher over the past three years.

But they can’t say for certain because, as an audi requested by state lawmakers revealed this month, the parole board has not been keeping track of the parolees the way the law requires. There is no way of knowing whether the board is consistent with its decisions to grant early parole. The state doesn’t even track whether those who are paroled early have a higher or lower recitivism rate than those who serve their full prison sentences, despite state law requiring it to do so and report that information to the Division of Criminal Justice.

The overall number of prisoners receiving early parole has risen in recent years. That’s not surprising, since the total prison population has also been growing.

More importantly, the percentage of those who receive early parole in Parole Board hearings has been steadily rising — from 10 percent in 2005 to roughly 16 percent this year.

Earlier, some Republicans blamed the increase on more liberal Parole Board members, appointed by Gov. Bill Ritter, pushing to get inmates out of prison earlier.

We never bought that argument. Ritter is a former Denver district attorney who never had a soft-on-crime reputation. It’s not likely he would appoint Parole Board members with a primary mission of seeing inmates get out of prison as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, there are other factors that may explain some of the increases, including legislative revisions in how some drug crimes are treated.

On top of that, the failure to report the recidivism information as required by law dates back to 1996. So it occurred in the last year of Democrat Roy Romer’s administration and through that of Republican Gov. Bill Owens.

Because of the problems revealed by the audit, no one can proclaim with any degree of certainty: “This many inmates were released early because of these specific policy changes.”

Grand Junction Sentinel


Anonymous said...

I for one am not understanding how they can't track this stuff. Offenders keep their DOC # even if they have discharged their parole. All they have to do is go through their records to see who's gone back and why. I'm going to bet that most of the new offenses are mandatory parolees, not early releases. Discretionary parole works much better than mandatory parole. It's been proven time and again in other states.

Anonymous said...

The Parole Board does NOT have a CLUE as to what they are doing. They have not been trained in the law. They make excuses that they do not have enough time to examine the cases before them. The system needs a major overhaul. When you are putting people back into prison without legal representation and just the word of the corrupt DOC, their only goal is to keep the prisons full. They must decide up to 45 cases for each parole board member, including the "chairman", a day because there are now over 23,000 prisoners in our prisons.
I was physically thrown out of a prison, at a parole hearing, for simply saying "What?", when my friend was illegally sentenced to 33 months for snapping a dish rag!!

Anonymous said...

Once you have served your parole and sentence, your DOC number is "killed". The legislature tried to STOP the DOC from doing this with a law, but like the entire corrupt legal system in this state, the DOC and Parole board refuses to obey state laws and believes themselves to be above all laws. mpc

Anonymous said...

I think Mr. Penry should explain to the people of Colorado why the DOC makes there own RULES and ignores state law??? Also i ask the great John Suther, which has precedence, a DOC rule or a state statute??? His answer was he needed more information??? There is another link to your DOC problem. Now MPC says the DOC and the Parole board think they are above the law?? He is right and because they hide there law breaking behind the state immunity for all state employee's, I contend that constitutionally, if a state employee breaks a law he or she lose's there imunity. djw

Anonymous said...

Immunity is only applicable if the offended cares about the law.

Anonymous said...