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, September 15, 2009

State Underreported Number of Eligible Inmates

The Denver Post

Colorado Department of Corrections officials underreported by thousands the number of prisoners — including thieves, drug dealers and killers — who are eligible for early release under a $19 million budget-cutting plan.

A review of the list shows that among the hundreds of violent offenders to be considered are several convicted killers and a man who shot and wounded a police officer, even though DOC officials and Gov. Bill Ritter have promised that the prisoners are not the type who would be eligible for early release.

The early-release plan, announced Aug. 18, is part of a plan to shore up a $318 million gap in this year's budget.

DOC officials have been reporting that 3,400 prisoners could be released over a two-year period. But internal reports obtained Monday say that is how many could be released in the 2009-10 budget year alone. Another 2,928 inmates would be let go the following year, Corrections budget manager Deb Kuglar said Monday.

State officials project that over the two years, 8,003 inmates will be eligible. Corrections officials estimate that the parole board will deny 20 percent of the early-release cases, leaving 6,400 who could be released up to six months early.

Corrections Department spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said documents provided to legislative committees have been accurate but said she unintentionally released inaccurate prisoner-release figures.

In August, Ritter said certain prisoners who have served long enough to be eligible for parole and are within six months of mandatory release could be considered for early release. He also said the prisoners would not be sex offenders, murderers or kidnappers.

On Monday, Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said the state has been upfront about who qualifies for the prisoner-release plan.

"This has been a completely transparent proposal," he said. "If there was a lapse (in the numbers reporting), that is regrettable and unfortunate, and we need to correct that as soon as possible."

The Corrections Department was to begin the early release of prisoners on Sept. 1. However, delays in setting up the program and reviewing case files have pushed the release date back weeks.

"The wheels of bureaucracy move slow," DOC chief financial officer Karl Spiecker said Monday.

Lost savings

Spiecker acknowledged there would be lost savings because 300 offenders, whose early release had been considered when the budget savings was calculated, have already been released from prison. However, he said he could not calculate the precise amount.

Ritter said the early-release program would save nearly $19 million the first year.

Though most of the first 1,969 prisoners to be considered for early release were convicted of nonviolent crimes, 478 of them, about 24 percent, are violent offenders.

Twenty people convicted of murder, attempted murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide are on the list, as are 88 robbers, 14 kidnappers and 14 abusers who seriously injured children. Some of the offenders have already been released under normal parole protocols.

Before any of the offenders can qualify for early release, the parole board must give its approval based on two risk-assessment scales.

Although sex offenders are on the list, parole board chairman David Michaud has said it will not consider them for early release.

To make room for the thousands of offenders being released early to parole, about 2,600 former inmates currently on parole will no longer be supervised.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

what Ritter needs to do to get cooperation from DOC officials is fire a few who drag there feet and dont get to work and carry out his orders. djw