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.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

First Ten Felons Set Free Under Early Release

The Denver Post
A man accused three times of sex offenses, a drunken driver convicted of vehicular homicide and a third man nabbed 46 times for alleged crimes including assault are all among the first 10 Colorado inmates granted early prison releases.
And they were considered the best of the bunch.
The 10 whose sentences were cut by weeks or months by the Colorado Parole Board were among a smaller-than-expected number the board considered safe to let go. And the volume and diversity of the 10 inmates' prior offenses shows how difficult it will continue to be for the state to choose among thousands of convicted criminals for early release.
The early-release initiative, announced Aug. 18, is part of a plan to save $19 million toward

filling a $318 million gap in this year's state budget. State officials have projected that over the two years, 8,003 inmates will be eligible. Gov. Bill Ritter has said that killers, kidnappers and sex offenders would not get out early.
Corrections officials initially estimated that the parole board would deny 20 percent of the early-release cases, leaving about 6,400 who could be released up to six months early.
Ritter administration officials referred questions about the releases to Parole Board chairman David Michaud , who said the process of finding offenders deserving of early release has proven much more difficult than anticipated.
80 percent deemed too risky
He said the board is rejecting about 80 percent of eligible offenders for early release, including 149 sex offenders whose cases were brought before the board.
This means the state won't realize the anticipated savings.
"I've been a cop since 1963 and I've spoken to hundreds of victims. I'm not going to let someone out early if I don't think it's safe," said Michaud, who was Denver's police chief for six years. "I don't care how much money they save or don't save."
He said Ritter has told him there is no quota and he wouldn't object to the parole board not releasing any offenders if they aren't deemed safe.
If the Parole Board continues to reject the bulk of inmates for early release, the savings will be just a fraction of the $19 million projected.
The Parole Board bases release decisions on two risk-assessment scales. The board reviews victim input, institutional behavior, commitment to sobriety, participation in programming, family support, job opportunities and prior criminal records, Michaud said.
In response to an open-records request, the state released the names of the first 10 this week.
Jose Madrigal, 27, convicted of vehicular homicide in 1999, was released the first day that early releases were granted on Sept. 22. It was 26 days before his mandatory release date. Madrigal had trouble following rules in prison.
In 2007, he was convicted of rioting in prison and got another two years tacked on to his sentence.
Michaud said that Madrigal drove drunk, rolled a van and killed a passenger, but he didn't intentionally kill someone. The board will not give early releases to inmates guilty of first- or second-degree murder, he said.
Although Benny Joe Rael, 51, was serving a nonviolent theft conviction when he was released 16 days early — also on Sept. 22 — he had been arrested previously three times for sex offenses and was convicted in one child sex-assault case in 1982, Colorado Bureau of Investigation records say. 

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

It sounds like the same old song and dance from the parole board.

Anonymous said...

The average individual reading this article would be aghast. The key here is these people are within 6 months of being released. The media needs to emphasis this point instead of attempting to hide the facts. Many, many good men and women are in prison for excuses that developed countries would apply reasonable options for; guidance instead of lock 'em up.

Anonymous said...

If a group of citizens looked at the records of DOC they would find many people worthy of early release. Wouldnt be sex offenders either. This article is a smoke screen by DOC and the parole board. Mr Michaud should resign his position and apologize for his statements. The case workers do everything they can to make all the inmates homeless. They drive the inmates from family and friends who could really help the inmates on release. They should all be ashamed of there handeling of inmates. I speak from a personal expierience with Debra Ahlin, case worker at DWCF and also a case worker at Canon City as well as Pueblo. There actions were deplorable.
Parole should be done away with, if the inmate has served there time and have good time they should be released. djw

Anonymous said...

Quit playing games parole board members. There are many people in prison for drug problems, crimes that are not violate. Inmates have made the wrong choices that is why they are in prison. Everyone in this world could make the wrong choice. Quit being idiots about how hard it is to pick the right criminal. This is all about sitting a case back in the file cabinet and money. it is a crying shame but, so are many of the prison we do not give them the right tools to return to society. Our prisons are set up for failures as the parole board is.

Anonymous said...

What a proud day for the parole board!! When Mr. Michaud made the statement "They were the best of the bunch" what I think he realy meant to say was.. they were the best of the bunch to be a guaranteed failure and make Gov. Ritter's plan look bad. This is just another opportunity for the parole board and DOC to fail the offenders, their loved ones and the taxpayers.. but hey isn't that what they do best???

So once again the revolving doors will continue to revolve, the hopes will be dashed for those offenders and their loved ones who have paid their debt and hoped for an earlier chance to succeed and the beds will remain full.. Isn't it called job security?!?!

Anonymous said...

Remember, the final "conviction" is very different from the original charges and becomes less serious after the plea bargaining process. Police reports are key to knowing exactly how the crime went down. If they knew the true details of the crime, some readers might not be so quick to let these folks out early.

Anonymous said...

May be it is time for the family and friends of inmates to join together and start protesting. It seems we have been quietly sitting in the back ground trying to reason with the powers that be, to see the error of their ways. Even when they have been presented with facts which prove what they are doing is not working they ignore it and continue doing the same things. We need to make enough noise for the public to hear our side of the story. The parole broad must have worked really hard to find people who were the least likely to succeed to use as their poster children for this program. How did they come up with someone who had a sex offence in his back ground, to be one of the first people to release for this program? And then claim they didn’t know about it?? My son is doing eight years on a five year sentence. $30,000 x 8 = $240,000. That is a lot of money for the state to train him to be a janitor.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous who talks about police reports must be a cop. Most police reports written by a cop are full of false charges. Most are dropped thru plea bargains because the DA's know they cant prove them. Rest assured all the info in those reports are never taken out. There are a lot of cops who shouldnt have a badge. They dont have the common sense needed to be a real cop. djw

Anonymous said...

I think it sucks that people are predicting these offenders to fail. And I also believe it to be unethical to flash their picture across a screen my prayers are with them and I really hope that they make it. just to kick it in everyones face but I bet there wont be a follow up story on the success of these individuals but a front page headline if one of them makes a mistake

Anonymous said...

The American people need to be aware that some prisoners are there for drug usage, and the poor choices, improper tools to live a complete and crime free life. We set them up for failure by no jobs, jumping through hoops and no positive support from the correctional facility or the law enforcement agency. The law knows contact with them sends them back. No I don't want murders, rapist and child molesters back on the street without cures. However, pull out some files work for your 50,000 to 100,000 a year job. Start thinking outside of the box. We have to find hope and promise. Sitting in a cell 24 hours a day watching free tv and free food is not the answer. Lets speed it up correctional and parole board lets move forward.

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