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, November 23, 2010

9NEWS.com | Denver | Colorado's Online News Leader | Prison escapee Douglas Alward blames seventh escape on incompetent guards

9NEWS.com | Denver | Colorado's Online News Leader | Prison escapee Douglas Alward blames seventh escape on incompetent guards
CANON CITY - Prison escapee Douglas Alward, the only Colorado prisoner to ever escape past a lethal electric fence, tells 9Wants to Know any inmate could have done the same thing and blames a lack of security that allowed his seventh escape on incompetent prison officers.

"The real issue is the laziness of Sterling staff," Alward, 48, said. "Without their lack of care, none of this would have been possible."

9Wants to Know interviewed Alward in a series of phone conversations and letters he sent since he escaped and was caught again.

Colorado Department of Corrections Director Ari Zavaras disagrees with Alward and says prison staff members were doing their jobs. However, he changed prison policies across the state after Alward's most recent escape highlighted deficiencies.

"We are dead set on taking steps to ensure something like this won't happen again," Zavaras said.

The seventh escape

Alward spoke at length with the 9Wants to Know investigators about his Aug. 22 escape.

"Nine years ago when I arrived at Sterling, none of what I did would have been possible. Within the last three years or so, anyone could have done this," Alward said in a phone interview with 9Wants to Know.

Alward planned his escape for two years, working nearly every day to gather materials to carry out his plot.

As an inmate maintenance worker, he was permitted to work unsupervised performing routine plumbing repairs throughout his unit.

He removed copper piping from the ventilation system to build a ladder, took shipping boxes from the canteen, found some discarded shower curtains lying around, and hid the supplies in a wall behind a toilet and above an access panel in the ceiling of his cell.

After correction officers' nightly rounds ended at 9:20 p.m. on a windy Aug. 22, Alward made his move.

He knew debris would be blowing across the prison yard and into the fences and believed that would make it tougher for corrections officers to know he was escaping.

Getting through his cell window was simple because of maintenance work he had already performed on it.

Alward told 9NEWS that the previous year, all the windows on the east side of Sterling had been riveted shut.

"I had done all of unit 22's and placed altered rivets in my window so it appeared secure, but still opened," he said.

Once outside, Alward used his makeshift ladder to get over the first razor wire fence.

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