The Denver Post
Stunned and saddened politicians and state workers paid tribute Wednesday morning to Tom Clements, Colorado's easy-going corrections director who was slain in his home the night before.
"Tom was one of the finest, kindest, most generous people I've ever met. He was the salt of the earth," Agriculture Secretary John Salazar said. "For someone to do that to him really upsets me."
Senate President Pro Tem Lucia Guzman called Clements "one of the best innovators for reforming the whole (prison) system."
"He was just so easy to work with," the Denver Democrat said.
Guzman, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, worked closely with Clements and was scheduled to meet him Saturday at the Sterling facility to research how life without parole inmates are housed and serving out the sentence.
"He was a reformer in the sense he was leading the discussion of reforming the penal system in using evidence-based practices," Guzman said.
Bent County Commissioner Bill Long has been in discussions with Clements for two years over the closing of Fort Lyon Correctional Facility, which at one time was the second largest employer in the county.
Long said he ran into Clements twice Tuesday at the state Capitol. Long was heading into a meeting about what to do with the closed prison when Clements was leaving a cabinet meeting.
Later that afternoon, as Long was sitting in the basement cafeteria waiting for another meeting, Clements stopped to talk to him.
"He said, 'Bill, I really want you know how much I enjoyed working with you and I admire your dedication to this Fort Lyon repurposing,' something like that," Long said. "Of course, now recalling that conversation is almost eerie.
"He was a wonderful man, a very nice man. I don't get it. This just breaks my heart."
Colorado WINS, the state employees union, also praised the prison director.
"Tom Clements was a leader who looked out for those he led," executive director Scott Wasserman said.
"As we worked on any number of issues facing the Corrections workforce, we always knew we had a reasonable and enlightened man at the other end of the table who wanted to reach a fair solution. He was a friend of this union and we are shocked by this tragedy."
Mike King, director of the Department of Natural Resources, said Clements did not fit the stereotypical image of a hardened career corrections official.
"Tom was just a beacon o
Read more: Admirers of Tom Clements: "Our hearts are just breaking" - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22830591/admirers-tom-clements-our-hearts-are-just-breaking#ixzz2O6m1c2oA
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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, March 20, 2013
The Denver Post