CANON CITY - Colorado Department of Corrections officials are paving a new approach for releasing prisoners into the community in a bid to both maintain safety and save the state millions of dollars.
Gov. Bill Ritter announced the Accelerated Transition Pilot program in August. By next June 30, an estimated 2,720 inmates out of 3,400 parole eligible will be on the streets saving the state $19 million in prison housing costs.
"These are all inmates who are parole eligible and going to be released within six months anyway," said Katherine Sanguinetti, DOC spokeswoman.
"Those who are eligible will be re-reviewed, or in some cases, go before the parole board for the first time and it will be up to the parole board to decide. We've been told about 20 percent will not be approved by the parole board," Sanguinetti said.
Once released the former inmates will not be left on their own to try to find new footing on the outside. Inmates who are deemed eligible for release will receive enhanced services on parole such as monitoring by Global Positioning System, paging, urine analysis and other methods. "This program will help them transition from prison to parole with enhanced mental health and substance abuse treatment, help with psychotropic drugs for those who are prescribed them, housing, employment and transportation support," Sanguinetti said.
"It is better to have them out in the community with services for the first two to six months because they are much more likely to succeed," Sanguinetti said.
Another estimated 2,900 prisoners who are within six months of being released from prison will be granted early parole by June 30, 2011, saving the state an additional $25 million.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
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.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009