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.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Study To Decide Prison's Future

Trinidad Times

By Steve Block, Staff writer, TTi
• May 28, 2013
The status of the Trinidad Correctional Facility is a matter of great concern to many area residents as it’s one of the major employers in Las Animas County.

Several officials from various state departments will be on hand to discuss an upcoming Prison Utilization Study Report at a public meeting to be held Tuesday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pioneer Room of Trinidad State Junior College’s Sullivan Center.

The Trinidad meeting is part of a regional tour by representatives of several state agencies to discuss the possible implications of the report, which will be released June 30. The tour will also include meetings June 4 in Ordway and Las Animas. The purpose of the meetings is to provide information about why the state authorized the study and to gather information from local officials and citizens about the economic importance of prisons in rural Colorado.

Representatives from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the governor’s office, the Department of Corrections and the Colorado Office of Planning and Budgeting are expected to attend the Trinidad meeting.

The Trinidad Correctional Facility is about eight miles east of town, and currently employs about 150 people, about half of them living in Las Animas County. It opened in 2001, but had one wing shut down in 2012, with the loss of several jobs.

In 2012 the State Office of Planning and Budgeting hired CNA, an Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit consulting and research organization, to study Colorado’s prison facilities and its correctional needs.

The state correctional system already had more than 2,100 empty beds at the end of 2012 and many experts predict that number could jump to as many as 3,600 by the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year. While those numbers are significant, even more shocking is the fact that the state has 7,500 fewer inmates than it once projected to have in 2013, according to a published report.

Several rural Colorado communities, Trinidad among them, are heavily dependent on state prisons to provide badly needed jobs and generate other forms of economic activity. Possible reductions in prison staffing, or even prison closures, could have serious implications on the economies of rural areas.

The meeting was scheduled on very short notice, according to County Administrator Leeann Fabec, who released the news to the media in a Friday phone call. The meeting is scheduled for the same time as the next regular meeting of the Trinidad City Council, so some local officials may have change their schedules if they want to attend the Prison Review Utilization Report meeting.

CNA officials visited the Trinidad facility in February as part of a survey of all the state’s prison facilities. An earlier public information meeting was held in Trinidad after the February visit.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

CCJRC News..

Come by and visit CCJRC at the Captiol Hill People's Fair on June 1 & 2!  We will be located on the northeast side of 14th and Bannock.  We look forward to seeing you there!
CHUN Capitol Hill People's Fair
June 1 and 2, 2013
Civic Center Park
Denver, Colorado
Saturday - 10am to 9pm
Sunday - 10am to 8pm
FREE Admission!

Denver PrideFest 2013 will be held June 15th and 16th at Civic Center Park!

Festival Hours:
Saturday, 11am - 7pm
Sunday, 10am - 6pm

The CoorsLight PrideFest parade steps off from Cheesman park at 9.30am and proceeds down Colfax into Civic Center Park.
CCJRC will be at the Denver Pridefest Celebration.  Our booth will be located on the south side of 14th Ave.
1212 Mariposa St. #6, Denver, CO 80204.  303-825-0122 www.ccjrc.org

SB 250 Signed by the Governor

SB 250 the Drug Sentencing Reform Act was signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper this morning at 11:40. It's the most incredible thing I've seen happen .. we fought this battle for over a decade.
 Thank you Senator Pat Steadman, Jessie Ulibarri, Irene Aguilar, Lucia Guzman, Steve King, Linda Newell, John Kefalas, Representative Claire Levy and so many others. This moves us closer to a world where we deal with an addiction as a public health issue and not a criminal justice issue.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Colorado parole audit expanded to cover budget issues

The Denver Post

An audit of Colorado's parole operations is being expanded to review whether budget issues are keeping parole officers from placing some high-risk parolees under intensive, electronic-monitoring supervision.
Roger Werholtz, interim director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, has asked the National Institute of Corrections to expand the scope of its audit into the state's parole operations to cover budget issues, spokeswoman Alison Morgan said Thursday.
On Wednesday, Tim Hand, the state's director of parole, was put on a paid leave of absence. Hand has not returned telephone calls seeking comment. Morgan declined to discuss the reasons he had been placed on leave.
The parole division has been under scrutiny since the killing of prisons chief Tom Clements by a parolee in March.
In an interview in April with The Denver Post, Hand spoke of the challenges of monitoring parolees on intensive supervision.
"We're in a situation where you manage people closely when they first come out, but 800 new people are coming out of prison every month, and you have to put new groups on high risk," Hand said.
But he later said budget issues are not a factor in determining who is monitored electronically.
Documents obtained by The Post through an open-records request show that the state has in some cases been unable to place or keep parolees under intensive supervision, which requires electronic monitoring and extra scrutiny, because of "caps" or budgetary limitations on the program.
In one of those cases, a parolee who was an alleged American Nazi Party recruit went on to kill a woman in Colorado Springs. In another, a parolee killed a 79-year-old

woman in her Weld County home during an attempted burglary.Morgan said the audit by the NIC, an agency within the U.S. Justice Department, will probe whether parole officers are properly classifying the risk that parolees pose to the public.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

John Hickelooper Gives Nathan Dunlap Reprieve.


Moments ago, Governor John Hickenlooper announced his decision regarding the scheduled execution of Nathan Dunlap, who was convicted in 1996 of killing four people and seriously wounding a fifth during an assault three years earlier at a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant.

Rather than granting clemency, as had been requested by those supporting Dunlap, Hickenlooper chose to offer a reprieve -- a temporary delay that can be reversed by a future governor if he or she so chooses.
News leaked about Hickenlooper's decision in the hour prior to his scheduled 2 p.m. press conference (which got underway a few minutes late), apparently thanks to District Attorney George Brauchler, a death penalty advocate who felt that Dunlap deserved the ultimate discipline. He confirmed to 7News and other news agencies that Hickenlooper had chosen to grant a reprieve -- a decision with which he wholeheartedly disagrees.

Copies of the executive order confirming Brauchler's statements were circulated in the moments before Hickenlooper walked to the podium in the west foyer of the State Capitol.

A look at the executive order.
When Hickenlooper stepped forward, he declined to mention Dunlap by name in announcing his course of action, choosing instead to refer to him as "offender number 89148," under the rationale that he'd gotten enough notoriety already for his terrible acts. Hickenlooper thanked the victims of the murderous attack for sharing their stories with him and stressed that the decision had "weighed heavily on me for, well, it's been over a year now." But given his statutory responsibilities, "inaction wasn't an option."

Among the questions Hickenlooper asked himself in considering what he would do included mulling whether the death penalty was "just or moral?" and "a benefit to the world." The more he studied the topic, the more he concluded that the system was imperfect -- and given the seriousness of the subject, "it really needs to be perfect."

He stressed that he had no doubt about "the heinous nature of the crimes committed," but he was troubled by "the inequity of the system."I am deeply respectful of the suffering and loss that occurs," he said. "But it's hard to see...the benefit of the capital punishment system" -- one that takes fifteen to twenty years to wind through the court system and "extends the emotional hardship for those families... "

In the end, he realized that he couldn't in good conscience give the go-ahead to "kill someone who is no risk to society."

At the same time, Hickenlooper said he didn't feel comfortable taking "the larger step" of granting full clemency. He viewed the reprieve as a way to show "respect to all the jurors and judges and prosecutors...respect to the rule of law in the State of Colorado."

After his opening statement, Hickenlooper took a number of questions. He characterized the reaction of family members of those killed by Dunlap as "largely disappointment... The majority of the families really did feel they'd get closure from an execution."

In the end, though, he took another path, based on the bigger picture. "Every study we've seen demonstrates that there's no deterrence by having a death penalty in a state," he said. "It doesn't make you safer. And there's ample examples of innocent people in other states being sentenced to death. The fallibility is clear, the inequity.... These facts, and I could go on for a half an hour, have been widely disseminated, but people aren't aware of these facts.... It's not just random that so many states have repealed the death penalty, and so many countries have done away with the death penalty."

Also against capital punishment, he said, was Tom Clements, the Department of Corrections head assassinated earlier this year, presumably by recent parolee Evan Ebel. "He was a pretty hardass, tough head of corrections," Hickenlooper stressed. "But he was adamantly against the death penalty. He and his wife, Lisa, were against the death penalty, and Lisa's still against the death penalty, even after what happened to her husband."

Clements's argument against capital punishment at a meeting a year or so ago "affected everybody in the room," Hickenlooper recalled. The next governor of Colorado can choose to lift Dunlap's reprieve, Hickenlooper pointed out -- so he didn't take the decision away from him or her. Still, he doubts that his successor will reverse course.

"I think it's more likely, and this is my bias, having spent this amount of time immersed in the issue, that as the facts get out, more and more people in the State of Colorado will say, 'This isn't the best solution....' Maybe the better solution would be to get people off the streets and give them life without parole and stop talking about it."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Denver women's prison has highest rate of reported staff sex assaults in nation

the Denver Post

More than one of every 10 women at the Denver Women's Correctional Facility claim staff members sexually assaulted them, according to a national study.
The study indicated that 10.7 percent of 160 inmates at the prison claimed they were sexually abused by staff, according to the study headed by Dr. Allen J. Beck, a statistician for the U.S. Bureau of Statistics.
It was the highest rate in the nation, according to the report, "Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates 2011-12" released Thursday morning by the U.S. Department of Justice. The study was conducted between February 2011 and May 2012.

Denver Women s Correctional Facility

Colorado prison was identified among 12 prisons across the country considered "high-rate" facilities based on reports of staff sexual misconduct including eight male prisons and four female prisons.By comparison, of the 38,251 male and female inmates at 225 prisons and 358 jails involved in the nation-wide survey, 2.4 percent of inmates claimed to have been sexually abused by staff members.
Of the Denver female inmates claiming sexual abuse, 7.3 percent claimed that physical coercion or threat of physical force was part of the assault. Only a Texas prison had a higher rate, the report indicated.
The accuracy of the inmate reporting was deemed above 95 percent.
A spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Corrections could not immediately be reached for comment.
The report also looked at inmate-on-inmate abuse. It said that 4 percent of state and federal inmates reported being sexually victimized in the past year. That is down from 4.5 percent in a survey conducted in 2007, according to the report.
At Denver Women's Correctional Facility, a total of 12.2 percent of women surveyed said they were sexually abused by staff and inmates.
Inmates at two other Colorado prisons were part of the study.
Only 1.2 percent of male inmates at the state-run prison Buena Vista Correctional Center claimed to have been sexually victimized. Of inmates at Skyline Correctional Center, also a state prison, 2.4 percent of inmates said they were sexually assaulted.
At Denver County Jail, of 205 inmates asked to participate, 69 percent responded. Of those inmates, 3.7 claimed to have been sexually victimized. It was the highest rate of abuse reported of the seven jails surveyed.
By comparison, no inmates at Jefferson County or Park County jails reported sexual assaults, according to the study.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Corrections Should Honor Tom Clements Legacy..

the Denver Post

In the days following Colorado Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements’ death, his family, his colleagues and Gov. John Hickenlooper expressed admiration for his compassion and his fundamental belief that all people could be redeemed. With new interim director Roger Werholtz in place, the governor and the CDOC have signaled an encouraging intention to further pursue Clements’ life-long goal of bringing greater safety to the public and humanity to Colorado’s prisons.

In his earliest days on the job, Clements became concerned that CDOC overused solitary confinement to manage prisoners, and that the number of mentally ill held in solitary confinement in Colorado was unacceptably high. Over 50 percent of prisoners held in solitary confinement had significant mental health needs. Moreover, 40 percent of Colorado prisoners were released from solitary confinement directly into the community. Clements knew these statistics put the public at grave risk, denied humane treatment to prisoners, and needlessly drained public resources.

During his tenure, Clements took significant steps to fundamentally change these policies. Most notably, he decreased the number of Colorado prisoners held in solitary confinement by more than 40 percent, without an increase in violent prison incidents. In the months before he died, Clements oversaw the creation of a 250 bed residential treatment program designed to get mentally ill prisoners out of solitary confinement and into therapy.

These reforms not only better preserved the constitutional rights of prisoners, but also helped to protect the community to which 97 percent of Colorado prisoners will eventually return. As Gov. Hickenlooper explained at Clements’ funeral: “[Tom Clements] talked with a level of confidence about the costs … the psychic costs, the personal costs of putting people for years in solitary confinement, many of whom had real issues with mental illness and then releasing them directly to [the public]. People who were judged to be dangerous to prisoners or prison personnel, yet at the end of their sentence, we would put them into [the public].

Clements’ reforms also made good fiscal sense. Housing prisoners in solitary confinement costs nearly twice as much as holding them in general population.
Clements made it clear that the correctional goals of protecting the public, respecting the constitutional rights of prisoners, and fiscal responsibility were not mutually exclusive and, in fact, could all be served simultaneously.

The ACLU of Colorado was privileged to work closely with Clements on reforms related to seriously mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement. Our communications with Clements and his staff left us with much hope that, under Clements’ direction, Colorado would see both the number of prisoners held in solitary confinement drop to a fraction of the current numbers and an end to placement of seriously mentally ill prisoners in 23-hour-per-day lock down.

Clements’ work is not yet done. Colorado still relies on solitary confinement to house over 4 percent of its prisoners, despite states like Mississippi managing to drop their solitary confinement rate to 1.5 percent with a corresponding decrease in violent crimes both inside and outside the prison. More than 50 percent of Colorado prisoners in solitary confinement have significant mental health needs. By its own account, CDOC currently houses 87 seriously mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement, 74 of whom have been in isolation for over a year. CDOC’s residential treatment program is not fully staffed and many prisoners in the program are still spending the vast majority of the day in isolation.

Perhaps most chilling of all for the public is that more than 20 percent of Colorado prisoners are still released directly to the public from solitary confinement, sometimes after having spent years in isolation struggling with mental illness, without the support they need to successfully return to society.

Tom Clements was actively working with his own staff, other prison leaders, legislators, and advocates for criminal justice reform like the ACLU to solve these problems. We urge the governor and Werholtz to honor Tom Clements impressive legacy by completing his unfinished work.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Do you have a story to tell?

The House I Live In


Public Showing of
The House I Live In

New Hope Baptist Church is offering a free screening of The House I Live In on Tuesday May 21, 2013 at 6:30PM.  The documentary, winner of Grand Jury Prize at Sundance Film Festival, offers a penetrating look at the devastating impact of the War on Drugs.  Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Eugene Jarecki, “The House I Live In” offers a poignant look inside US drug policies and the far-reaching impact on families and communities.  Executive producers include Danny Glover, John Legend, Brad Pitt, Russell Simmons, and Joslyn Barnes

Since 1972, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests and has cost more than one trillion dollars.  As a result, the United States has become the world’s largest jailer, and the high volume of drug arrests have destroyed low-income communities, creating a vicious cycle that must stop.  Filmmakers are teaming with victims and communities of the War on Drugs, advocacy groups, faith communities, criminal justice supporters, and elected officials across country to educate and mobilize people to end the disastrous War on Drugs.  Dr. Vincent Harding from Veterans of Hope will offer his insights at the screening. Additionally, public officials and advocate groups at the screening will provide commentary and information.
What: Screening of The House I Live In
When: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Where: New Hope Baptist Church
               3701 Colorado Boulevard
               (303) 322-5200

For more infomation please contact John Riley at CCJRC at john@ccjrc.org or
Art Way at Drug Policy Alliance of Colorado at away@drugpolicy.org
Official Film Website: www.thehouseilivein.org
New Hope Baptist Church: www.newhopedenver.org

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Troy Anderson: Are prisoner's conditions worse since lawsuit?


Troy Anderson, a mentally ill inmate at Colorado's supermax prison, won a landmark decision last summer when a federal judge ruled he's entitled to at least three hours a week of fresh air and outdoor exercise. Now, Anderson's attorneys claim Department of Corrections officials have failed to comply with several key aspects of the court order -- and that their client is worse off than before, with less effective mental health treatment, following a transfer from the supermax to solitary confinement at the Sterling Correctional Facility.
In court papers recently filed in the case, Anderson's legal team -- which includes student lawyers at the University of Denver -- contend that the situation at Sterling has deteriorated to the point where Anderson declined to leave his cell or accept food trays for nearly two months, living on canteen items, because he feared he might assault staff. He asserts that a counselor who saw him after several weeks of such isolation told him that him that Sterling's mental health staff was there to provide "triage and not treatment."
Anderson, who's serving an 83-year sentence stemming from two shootouts with police, has a long history of erratic behavior, suicide attempts and violence going back to an early age, a voluminous psychiatric record explored in my 2006 feature "Head Games." He was one of ten inmates who has been at the Colorado State Penitentiary for ten years or more with hardly any exposure to the outdoors during that time; exercise at CSP consists of an hour in a small room with a chin-up bar and outdoor air piped in through small holes. His lawsuit challenged several aspects of life at CSP, from mental health treatment to the policies that have kept him from progressing to a less restrictive prison, as unconstitutional.
Last August, U.S. District Judge Brooke Jackson denounced conditions at CSP as "a paradigm of inhumane treatment" and ordered the DOC to provide Anderson with a re-evaluation of his mental health treatment and outdoor exercise within sixty days.
But rather than modify conditions at CSP, prison officials elected to move Anderson to Sterling four days before that deadline expired. Anderson soon discovered that his "outdoor" rec was partially inside, in a narrow room with concrete walls that offers a small patch of meshed-in sky at its far end. In an affidavit, Anderson describes the experience as "like being in a shoebox."
The move has also resulted in less contact with mental health professionals than Anderson had at CSP, his attorneys claim. Sterling has ten mental health workers to deal with 2,400 inmates; Anderson sees a psychiatrist via video conference once every two months, solely to discuss his medication. He's now on Ritalin, which he says has been "life-changing" in its ability to control his impulsiveness. But he also admits he's had several disputes with Sterling staffers, whom he believes are trying to provoke him. He fears possible confrontations -- thus his decision to stay in his cell for two months.
"The retaliation and harassment continues," Anderson wrote in a letter to Westword shortly after his attorneys' objections were filed. "I have had all my privileges, TV, canteen, phone taken. But I am okay. Mad as hell. But still okay."
State attorneys have not yet filed a response to Anderson's allegations.
More from our Prison Life archive: "Troy Anderson lawsuit: Supermax must provide outdoor rec, judge rules."

End of Session...Triumph for CCJRC

CCJRC 2013 Legislative Wrap-Up

Whew!  It’s over. The last few days of the 2013 legislative session were hectic but very productive. Here’s a quick update of what happened in the last few days and a wrap-up on all the bills that CCJRC was tracking including those that have been signed into law (or are awaiting action by the Governor) and those that died.

What happened this week
CCJRC’s highest priority bill, SB 250 (drug sentencing reform bill), passed the House unanimously and is off to the Governor’s desk.  The Senate voted the previous week and passed it 34-1.  We felt confident that SB 250 would pass but never dreamed that only 1 legislator out of a 100 would vote against it. 
SB 123 (address barriers to collateral consequences) also passed the House but on a more partisan 38-27 vote.  It passed unanimously in the Senate but the House was much crankier  this session.
The following bills also passed through the last stages and are off to the Governor’s desk: SB 208 (changes to drug paraphernalia law), HB 1082 (juvenile record sealing), HB 1156 (expanding pre-filing diversion), HB 1160 (changes in theft laws), HB 1230 (compensation for people exonerated by DNA evidence who had been convicted and incarcerated), HB 1210 (repeals statute requiring a defendant charged with a misdemeanor from having to talk with the prosecutor before being eligible for a public defender) and HJR 1019 (interim task force to study legal representation for juveniles).
The big twister happened with HB 1261 (repurpose Ft Lyon Correctional Facility to provide program for the homeless).  It finally got introduced in the Senate on 4/29 after having stalled for a couple of weeks.  It passed out of its first Senate Committee hearing on 5/1 only to die in the Senate Appropriations Committee on 5/3.  However, it didn’t die for long ….. later that same day it was revived in the House by amending it into another bill --  SB 210 which was a bill that had to do with DOC staffing and pay issues.  The bill went back over to the Senate since the House had amended it and several Senators objected that amending the Ft Lyon homeless program into SB 210 was unconstitutional (because it violated the single-subject mandate for bills) but there weren’t enough votes in the Senate to strip it out.  So, it passed the Senate with the Ft Lyon rider attached.  So, there you go…..unless of course someone goes to court to challenge the constitutionality of SB 210. 
HB 1151 (mandatory DNA collection on people convicted of a class 1 misdo) and HB 1214 (creating a felony DUI crime) both died in committee on Tuesday at the Senate sponsor’s request.
This was one of the hardest sessions CCJRC has been involved in but also the most productive in terms of the number, depth and breadth of criminal justice reform bills.  Many thanks to all sponsors and groups that carried the load including the Colorado Criminal Defense Foundation, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Harm Reduction Action Center, Drug Policy Alliance-CO, the ACLU-CO, and the Colorado Juvenile Defender Coalition.  Great work everyone both on offense and defense!!!!
If you’d like to make a donation to CCJRC to celebrate the close of a most successful legislative session, go to www.ccjrc.org or click the Donate Now button below.
Your support is much needed and much appreciated! 

Amendment 64 bills

All three bills related to implementing Amendment 64 were passed (HB 1317, HB 1318, and SB 283) in a flurry of activity.  The links to the final versions are below if you want the deep details. HB 1325 (creating a permissible inference for DUI-d at 5ng THC) also passed on its third effort in one session.
Just in case anyone thought there weren’t enough bills related to marijuana this session, Monday night Senator Morse and Senator Cadman also introduced legislation (SCR 03) that would have put two questions before voters in November; the first was the approval (or not) of the sales and excise tax for recreational marijuana and the second question was whether the provisions of Amendment 64 should be suspended if the tax measures weren’t approved by voters. It was introduced in the late afternoon, whisked off to be heard in a Senate Committee within the hour (and passed 4-1) only to be dropped by the sponsors a few hours later. That was a lot of drama and effort.  I’ve haven’t seen marijuana activists or lobbyists move so fast – fortunately a bunch of them were at the Capitol anyway working on the Amendment 64 implementation bills.

Legislation Signed into Law 
(or awaiting action by the Governor)
SB 13-007 Concerning the Repeal Date of the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice
Sponsors: Senator Morse (D) and Representative Waller (R)
CCJRC position: support
Description: The Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) has a repeal date of July 1, 2013. This bill was amended to set a new repeal date and continue the CCJJ. This bill is based on a recommendation from the CCJJ.
Status: passed Senate 30-5 (2/22) and passed House on 4/22; awaiting action by Governor.
SB 13-014 Concerning the Use of Opiate Antagonists to Treat Persons Who Suffer Opiate-Related Drug Overdose Events
Sponsors: Senator Aguilar (D) and Rep. Pettersen (D)
CCJRC position: support
Description: This bill would provide immunity from criminal prosecution and immunity from civil liability if a person, acting in good faith, administers an opiate antagonist to another person whom the person believes to be suffering an opiate-related drug overdose. A licensed health-care practitioner who is permitted by law to prescribe or dispense an opiate antagonist shall be immune from criminal prosecution for and is not liable for any civil damages resulting from such prescribing.
Status: passed Senate (26-8-1); passed House 63-1-1 4/23; awaiting action by Governor.
SB 13-123 Concerning Provisions That Improve The Reintegration Opportunities for Persons Involved in the Criminal Justice System
Sponsors: Senator Steadman (D) and Representative Levy (D)
CCJRC position: support-priority
Description: As amended, the bill would allow petty offenses and municipal violations to be eligible for sealing through a court process; requires the court to provide written advisement of sealing available following a conviction for a petty or municipal offense. The bill would also allow a judge to grant relief from a collateral consequence at sentencing if the defendant met other eligibility requirements and requires that the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice make recommendations and submit a report no later than December 15, 2013 on specific strategies for reducing the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction or other recommendations to improve reentry.
Status: passed Senate (35-0); passed House (38-27) and is awaiting action by the Governor
SB13-177 Concerning Changes to Juvenile Corrections Programs and, in Connection Reducing the Juvenile Detention Bed Cap
Sponsor: Senators Lambert (R), Hodge (D), Steadman (D); and Representatives Gerou (R), Duran (D) and Levy (D) (Joint Budget Committee Members)
CCJRC position: Support
Description: Reduces the number of available juvenile detention beds statewide from 422 beds to 382 beds as of April 1, 2013.
Status: passed Senate (35-0); passed House (64-1); signed into law on 3/29
SB 13–208 Concerning Limitations on Drug Paraphernalia Laws
Sponsors: Sen. Steadman (D), Sen. Aguilar (D), Sen. Guzman (D), Sen. Hudak (D), Sen. Nicholson (D), Sen. Ulibarri (D) and Rep May (D)
CCJRC Position: support
Description: Current criminal law exempts from prosecution people who possess paraphernalia if they are an employee or volunteer of a syringe exchange program approved by the department of public health and environment. The bill extends this exemption to persons who are participants in an approved program.
Status: passed Senate (28-6); passed House (37-28) and is awaiting action by the Governor.
SB13-244 Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force
Sponsors: Senator Guzman (D) and Representative Kagan (D)
CCJRC position: monitor
Description:  This bill extends the repeal date for the Methamphetamine Task Force, expands membership from 16-22 members, expands the scope and renames it to the Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force
Status: passed Senate (35-0); passed the House (54-7-4) and is awaiting action by the Governor.
SB13-250 Concerning Changes to Sentencing for Persons Convicted of Drug Crimes
Sponsors: Sen. Steadman (D) and Sen. S. King (R) and Rep. Levy (D)
CCJRC position: priority-support
Description: This bill is based on numerous recommendations from the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice that would rewrite the Controlled Substances Act.  Major provisions include: creating a stand-alone sentencing scheme for drug offenses; consolidating all drug possession of scheduled substances into one felony level but allowing that felony to be reduced to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation or community corrections sentence, if other criteria is met; requiring the court to exhaust all appropriate and available sentencing options for convictions of a level 4 drug felony prior to sentence to incarceration; allows people convicted of a misdemeanor to be supervised on intensive supervised probation if assessed to be higher risk; creating different felony crime levels to distinguish between low, medium, and high-level dealers based on drug quantity; expanding access to treatment for people serving a sentence for a drug offense; and making numerous conforming amendments. $3.5million in prison savings and reinvest into substance abuse treatment for people in the criminal justice system starting in FY14-15.
Status:  passed Senate (34-1); passed House (65-0) and is awaiting action by the Governor
HB 13-1014 Concerning the Taking of Newspapers
Sponsors: Representative Levy (D) and Senator Steve King (R)
CCJRC position: support
Description: The bill moves the crime of newspaper theft and renames it interference with lawful distribution of newspapers. This bill is based on a recommendation from the Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.
Status: passed House (64-0); passed Senate (35-0); signed into law on 2/27
HB 13-1038 Concerning the Voting Rights of Individuals in the Custody of the Division of Youth Corrections within the Department of Human Services
Sponsors: Representative Rosenthal (D)
CCJRC position: support
Description: For youths confined in a juvenile facility in the custody of the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC) who will be 18 years of age or older on the date of the next elections, this bill requires the administrator of DYC facilities to provide information and facilitate voter registration and voting by mail-in ballot.
Status: passed House (36-28-1); passed Senate (26-8-1); signed into law on 3/15
HB 13-1082 Concerning Juvenile Delinquency Records
Sponsors: Representative Labuda (D)
CCJRC position: support
Description:  As amended, the bill makes numerous changes to the procedures for expunging juvenile criminal records.
Status: passed House (45-17-3); passed Senate (35-0) and is awaiting action by the Governor.
HB 13-1129 Concerning Creating the Evidence-Based Practices Implementation for Capacity Resource Center
Sponsors: Representative Pettersen (D) and Senator Newell (D)
CCJRC position: support
Description: This bill creates a resource center in the Division of Criminal Justice to promote evidence-based practices by criminal justice agencies. An advisory board will oversee the resource center which includes, at a minimum, the executive directors of the department of public safety, department of corrections, the department of human services, and the division of probation. The Division of Criminal Justice will report to the General Assembly by July 1, 2014 and every 3 years thereafter. This bill is based on a recommendation by the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.
Status: passed House (57-6-2); passed Senate (24-11); awaiting action by Governor
HB13-1156 Concerning Creation of an Adult Diversion Program
Sponsors: Rep Levy (D) and Senator Steadman (D)
CCJRC position: priority support
Description: Creates a pre-filing diversion programs for adults statewide and creates a state grant program that district attorneys can apply for funding to create or expand an adult pre-filing diversion program. The district attorney is required to develop eligibility guidelines and may enter into a diversion agreement with a defendant for up to two years without filing a criminal case against the defendant. This bill is based on a recommendation by the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.
Status: passed House (61-2-2); passed Senate (35-0) and is awaiting action by the Governor.
HB13-1160 Concerning Criminal Theft
Sponsors: Rep Pabon (D) and Senator King (R)
CCJRC position: priority support
Description: This bill repeals theft of rental property and theft by receiving as separate statutes and incorporates these crimes into the theft statute. It also changes the amount for various offense levels. This bill is based on a recommendation by the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.
Status: passed House (62-0-3); passed Senate (33-1-1) and is awaiting action by the Governor.
HB13-1210 Concerning Appointment of Legal Counsel During Plea Negotiations for Indigent Adult Defendants
Sponsors: Rep. Kagan (D) and Senator Steadman (D)
CCJRC position: support
Description: This bill will make Colorado law consistent with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding the right to legal counsel during critical stages, including plea negotiations, this bill repeals the statute that requires an indigent person charged with a misdemeanor, petty offense, or motor vehicle or traffic offense to meet with the prosecuting attorney before legal counsel is appointed.
Status: passed House (35-28-2); passed Senate (21-14) and is awaiting action by the Governor
HB13-1230 Concerning Compensation For Persons Who Are Exonerated of their Crimes After a Period of Incarceration
Sponsors: Rep. Williams (D), Pabon (D), Buckner (D), Court (D), Hullinghorst (D), M elton (D), Pettersen (D), Salazar (D); and Senator Guzman (D)
CCJRC position: Support
Description: With certain limitations, the state shall compensate a person, or the immediate family members of a person, who has been: wrongly convicted of a felony, or wrongly adjudicated a juvenile delinquent for the commission of an offense that would be a felony if committed by a person 18 years of age or older; incarcerated; and exonerated and found to be actually innocent.
Status: passed House (60-2-3); passed Senate (32-0-3) and is awaiting action by the Governor
HB13-1236 Best Practices in Bond Setting
Sponsors: Senator Ulibarri (D), and Rep. Levy (D)
CCJRC position: support
Description: The bill repeals and reenacts the provisions of the criminal procedure code related to bail bonds. The new provision places a greater emphasis on evidence-based and individualized decision-making during the bond-setting process and discourages use of monetary conditions for bond. This bill is based on a recommendation by the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.
Status: passed House (63-1-1); passed Senate (35-0); awaiting action by Governor
HB13-1254 Concerning Restorative Justice
Sponsors: Representative Lee (D), Senator Newell (D)
CCJRC position: Support
Description: Under current law, restorative justice victim-offender conferences must be initiated by the victim. The bill modifies the requirement of victim initiation in some instances to permit district attorney or offender initiation. There is a restorative justice coordinating council established in the state court administrator's office; the bill adds: a member of the parole board; a representative from the department of corrections, a representative from a statewide organization representing victims; and a restorative justice practitioner. The bill creates a pilot project for restorative justice programs in 4 judicial districts.
Status: passed House (35-27-3); passed Senate (21-14) and is awaiting action by the Governor.
 HJR13-1019: Concerning Creation of an Interim Committee To Study Legal Defense in Juvenile Justice Proceedings
Sponsors: Reps Levy (D) and Navarro (R) and Senators Giron (D) and Harvey (R)
CCJRC position: monitor
Description: Creates a legislative committee of six voting members from the House and Senate and the up to ten non-voting members may also be appointed. The interim legislative committee shall meet no less than four times and shall evaluate multiple issues related to the availability, timing and proficiency of legal representation of juveniles.
Status: passed House 4/8; passed Senate (34-0-1); awaiting action by Governor
Legislation that Died
HB 13-1085 Concerning Changes to the Crimes Eligible for Possession of Weapons by Previous Offenders
Sponsors: Representative Buck (R) and Senator Renfroe (R)
CCJRC position: support
Description: Under current law, it is a crime for a person convicted of any felony offense to possess a firearm. This bill would limit the prohibition on possessing a firearm to those felony convictions under the victim’s rights act, burglary, arson, or any felony involving the use of force or the use of a deadly weapon.
Status: House Judiciary Committee Postponed Indefinitely on 4/2
HB13-1148 Concerning Changes to Aggravated Sentencing Provisions
Sponsors: Representative Foote (D) and Senator Roberts (R)
CCJRC position: priority support
Description: This bill repeals the extraordinary risk sentencing enhancer. Also adds certain child abuse crimes and stalking crimes to the list of Crime of Violence offenses. Bill is based on a recommendation by the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.
Status: House Judiciary Postponed Indefinitely on 3/21
HB 13-1114 Concerning Penalties for Persons Who Drive While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
Sponsors: Representatives Waller (R) and Fields (D)
CCJRC position: monitor
Description: In a DUI prosecution, if the driver’s blood contains 5 nanograms or more of delta THC per milliliter in blood (based on a blood test), such fact gives rise to a permissible inference that the driver was under the influence. This bill is based on a recommendation from the Colorado Commission on Criminal & Juvenile Justice.
Status: Died in Senate Judiciary 4/22 (but reintroduced as HB 1325 which passed the House (54-11); passed the Senate (23-12) and is awaiting action by the Governor)
SB13-239 Avoid Conflicts of Interest in Probation Services
Sponsors: Sen. Ulibarri (D), Sen. Guzman (D), Rep. Salazar (D)
CCJRC position: monitor
Description: The bill clarifies that an entity that provides probation or case management oversight services to a defendant cannot also provide offender treatment, chemical dependency education and treatment, or domestic violence or mental health services to the same defendant or hold a financial interest in an entity that provides such education or treatment services to the same defendant. A private probation provider is prohibited from directing a probationer it supervises to a particular treatment provider.
Status: passed Senate Judiciary on 4/17 (3-2); died on second reading in the Senate
HB13-1214 Concerning the Classification of Certain Drunk Driving Offenses as Felonies
Sponsors: Rep. Waller (R) and Sen. Morse (D)
CCJRC position: Oppose
Description: Under current law, a conviction for DUI, DUI per se, or DWAI is considered a misdemeanor offense. The bill states that such an offense is a class 5 felony if: the violation occurred not more than 7 years after the first of two prior convictions or if the defendant has 3 prior DUI or DWAI convictions.  Estimated increase in prison costs is at least $16million a year.
Status: passed House (55-8-2); Postponed Indefinitely (died) in Senate Finance Committee at the request of the Senate sponsor
HB 13-1251 Concerning Collection of a DNA Sample from Offenders Convicted of a Misdemeanor
Sponsors:  Representatives Pabon (D) and Foote (D) and Senator Morse (D)
CCJRC position: oppose
Description:  Under current law, only people convicted of a misdemeanor involving unlawful sexual conduct must provide a DNA sample for inclusion in the DNA database at the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. As amended, the bill would require collection of a DNA sample from all persons convicted of a class 1. In 2012, there were over 20,000 people convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor.
Status: passed House (43-21-1); Postponed Indefinitely in Senate Finance at the request of the Senate sponsor.
HB13-1261 Concerning the Use of the Property Where the Fort Lyon Correctional Facility Was Located
Sponsors: Representative Garcia (D) and Rep. Dore (R)
CCJRC position: monitor
Description: The bill designates a portion of the Fort Lyon property, which was the site of a former state correctional facility, as a transitional residential community for the homeless to provide substance abuse supportive services, medical care, job training, and skill development for the residents.
Status: passed House (49-13-3); Postponed Indefinitely in Senate Appropriations (but amended into SB 210 and passed in House and Senate)
SB13-253 Concerning a Deferred Judgment for a Drug Offense When There is a Violation of the Deferred Judgment
Sponsors: Sen. Steadman (D) and Representative Levy (D)
CCJRC Position: support- priority
Description:  Under current law, a violation of the terms of a deferred judgment requires the court to enter the defendant’s guilty plea.  The bill allows the court to continue deferred judgment after a violation in a drug case and impose new conditions that may assist the defendant in successfully completing the deferred judgment.
Status: was amended into SB 250 (drug sentencing reform bill)
     1212 Mariposa St. #6, Denver, CO.  80204,    www.ccjrc.org   303-825-0122

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Nathan Dunlap to face execution the week of August 18

The Denver Post

A judge Wednesday set the week of Aug. 18 as the time Nathan Dunlap should die for killing three teenage employees and their 50-year-old manager during the robbery of a Chuck E. Cheese's restaurant in Aurora nearly 20 years ago.
Over the objections of Dunlap's attorneys, Judge William Sylvester announced the date in an Arapahoe County District Court.
One hand cuffed to his waist and the other free to take notes, Dunlap sat before Sylvester. Dunlap wore a blue shirt and tie, glasses with thick black frames and his trademark dreadlocks hanging down his back.
Dunlap smiled when he walked into the courtroom, and he occasionally rocked in his chair. He stood once while officers adjusted his handcuffs. He did not speak

during about 90 minutes in court.Sylvester established the one-week window for the execution but did not set the actual date. That task lies with the director of the Department of Corrections.
Wednesday marked the first time a death date has been set in Colorado since the October 1997 execution of killer Gary Davis.
Families of the victims hugged one another as they left the crowded courtroom Wednesday. Bob and Marj Crowell — parents of Sylvia Crowell, who was 19 when Dunlap shot her to death — said the execution date brings them "one step closer" to justice for their daughter.
Nancy Grant, whose son Ben Grant also died in the restaurant, said there is still a long way to go before her child gets justice.
"It needed to be done, and I hope the governor agrees," she said.

Ebel was worried about walking free

Colorado Independent
Evan Ebel, suspected murderer of Prisons Chief Tom Clements, filed a series of grievances with the Department of Corrections shortly before his release from prison that document his concerns about transitioning directly from years in solitary confinement to the free world.

The 'illegible' DOC grievance filed by Evan Ebel on 12 December 2012, asking if he shouldn't receive some transition training from solitary confinement before being released directly onto the streets.
“Do you have an obligation to the public to reacclimate me, the dangerous inmate, to being around other human beings prior to being released and, if not, why?” Ebel asked in three formal grievances, each almost verbatim, filed in the months before he walked free in January.
Ebel’s concerns fell on the deaf ears of prison officials who, documents suggest, seemed to care less than Ebel himself about the volatility and threat posed by a prisoner who had a history of threatening and injuring prison guards. Instead, the officials to whom the grievances were addressed focused on Ebel’s failure to dot the I’s and cross the T’s in his paperwork. They repeatedly found cause to dismiss them. Ebel “failed to follow the grievance procedure,” they wrote, and his messy handwriting failed to stay within the lines of the forms.
In fact, the department didn’t answer Ebel’s final complaint until he already had been set free. The DOC wrote its final grievance rejection letter on February 11, two weeks after it had released Ebel on parole. The letter gives a glimpse into his frustrations with the prison system, what Ebel saw as its soullessness and counter-productivity. Earlier grievances show Ebel felt those conditions were crushing his humanity.
It’s unclear if Ebel ever really expected to receive a considered response to his anxious questions. What he got was bureaucrateze.
“In this instance, you have written two lines of narrative into many of the lined spaces intended for just one line of narrative,” Grievance Officer Anthony A. DeCesaro wrote in a response dated February 11. “This resulted in a great deal of your grievance becoming illegible. So, when you claim in the Step 2 that the Step 1 response didn’t read your grievance perhaps it was because the Step 1 was the most part illegible. In addition, you claim that you are just looking for answers to questions about policy, Grievance Procedure is not the appropriate method for debating policy questions nor is it designed to address the policy questions you have posed. Please review AR 1350-03 Constituent Services Coordinator for more information about directing your concerns.”
An almost identically worded, more legible grievance submitted by Ebel 11 January 2013, just days before his release from prison.
Ebel, 28, was originally sentenced to eight years for robbery, then to four more years for assaulting a prison guard.
Authorities believe he shot and killed Denver pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon on March 17 and Prison Chief Clements on March 19, before being killed on March 21 during a police chase and shootout in Texas.
The Colorado Independent has reported accounts by Ebel’s friends and former prison mates who say his experience in long-term solitary confinement exacerbated his mental health problems and enraged him about a department he felt had eroded his ability to interact with people, let alone survive outside
Through a freedom of information request to the Corrections Department, The Independent this week obtained 51 pages of grievances Ebel filed between 2006 and 2013, during which he served most of his time in “administration segregation” or “ad seg” – the prison system’s term for solitary confinement. That entails living alone 23 hours a day in a concrete cell the size of two queen sized mattresses. In Colorado State Penitentiary — the prison where Ebel served most of his time — prisoners’ 24th hour is also spent alone, exercising in an indoor cage with no direct sunlight and only a small window for fresh air.
In that context, human contact consists mainly of passing a food tray through a slot in their door three times a day, being shackled by prison guards on the way to and from the exercise room and sending notes to other prisoners using, among other methods, synchronized toilet flushing to move the plastic wrapped letters up and down between floors. Family visits in a booth divided by heavy glass are allowed, though in many cases infrequent, given limited visiting hours and the 114 miles between CSP and metro Denver. Mail is a lifeline to the outside world. But that, too, is often curtailed by a curiously high rate of letters that don’t make it in or out of the prison.
For Ebel, “offender #125083,” as for about 800 other state prisoners still living in solitary confinement, “ad seg” is an existence that cuts off virtually all social stimulation, normal conversation and human interaction. It’s marked by an enduring sameness that, study after study has shown, exacerbates mental illness, atrophies social abilities and can beat down the psyche with hopelessness or spite.
Some prisoners cope by taking up meditation or religious practice. Some read and reread as much as possible, given the limited number of books they’re allowed in their cells. Some tune into TV and radio, if and when they’re allowed those privileges. Some draw or compose songs that nobody hears them sing. Some do push-ups. Some pace in circles. Some incessantly write letters to relatives, friends, friends of friends, politicians, clergy members, journalists and anyone else they hope will open their envelopes.
Instead of using violence or smearing feces on the wall – two other ways Ebel used to voice his frustrations in isolation — filing formal grievances is the prison system’s suggested method of voicing concerns, big and small.
Ebel’s grievances were well written in relatively neat penmanship that degenerated near the time of his release. They generally were succinct and polite — usually ending in “thanks” or even an underlined “thanks” – but they were also demanding and at times idiosyncratic.
The subjects of his grievances included problems sending and receiving mail and DOC’s decision not to let a woman visit him on grounds that her driver’s license wasn’t valid. Ebel complained about what he called inadequate medical treatment for a knee problem, tremors and spasms, intestinal issues, a colostomy bag and a persistent eye infection. He grieved that the prison censored his “Resistance” magazines, a publication popular among white supremacists. And he decried the confiscation of his literature about Asatru, a faith based on Northern European white lineage that Ebel listed as his religion. He complained about the cost of canteen items, and the lack of food products with protein for sale to prisoners. He grieved about his laundry going missing.
In 2006, Ebel was agitated about problems with the lighting in his cell.
“I have repeatedly contacted maintenance through the pod staff about having my light fixed. They responded and informed me that an electrician needs to come fix it. The electrician came stayed in my house for 5 minutes and deemed the problem static electricity. The problem lies in the fact that every time I turn my light off it comes back on, therefore keeping me up at night. The button also gets stuck and when I turn the top light on and cover it in an attempt to get some sleep my desk light comes on. The remedy I am requesting is that they fix it. If so, I’d really appreciate it,” he wrote in August of that year.
Five weeks later, he filed another grievance about the maintenance workers who repaired his light.
“They put their toolbox and other assorted things on my bed therefore leaving grease stains on my blanket and sheets. This is extremely disrespectful and could easily be a source of conflict between me and staff. I recommend that from now on you tell maintenance to either put their toolbox and tools on the ground or to fold my mattress in half and place them on the concrete slab. Thank you.”
The official response was sensitive to his frustration.
“Talked to inmate. Told him maintenance was sorry and it wouldn’t happen again. Also told him I would talk to the staff in the shop about laying tools on the bunk,” it read.
Also in 2006, Ebel complained about “the fact that the toilet brush and the hand brush we use to sweep our floors are in constant contact with each other and rarely if ever cleaned.”
“This is extremely unsanitary,” he wrote. “You wouldn’t clean your own floors with a broom that’s been saturated in dirty toilet water and exposed to a feces smeared toilet brush and I ask that you don’t let us suffer the same indignity. Thanks.”
His grievance was denied on grounds that the “cleaning kits are cleaned with the cleaning agent Virex when required.“
“Staff is aware of the cross contamination issues and the individual compartments of the cleaning kit separate the toilet brush from the rest of the kit,” he was told.
By the end of 2006, Ebel’s grievances show he was becoming increasingly agitated. He complained about the satellite “super shuffle” radio programming repeating the same set of songs.
“Our lives are monotonous enough in CSP where we’re locked down 23 hours a day and basically do the same thing over and over again. The least you could do is give us a little variety of music to listen to so we could leave here with a small degree of our sanity intact,” he wrote in December of that year. “Also you continue to take privileges from us for no reason at all and then wonder why we act up. Well here’s your answer. If you could please revert to the old radio station schedule we’d most surely appreciate it. Thanks.”
That same month, Ebel wrote a grievance complaining about the split lip, bloody nose, four stitches above his right eye, and abrasions on his face, head and body caused by prison guards restraining him after they say he hit one of their colleagues. He also complained about his $10 copay to be stitched up.
“It doesn’t matter what my alleged actions are there’s nothing that justifies assaultive behavior by staff,” he wrote.
DOC flatly rejected his complaint: “The situation you reference involves you slipping the handcuffs and attempting and striking staff in the face. Your actions warranted an immediate response from staff so that they could protect themselves from your assaultive behavior. Staff lowered you to the ground and controlled you. Your injuries were incurred based on these actions. Staff used reasonable restraint in dealing with you, considering your ill intent to harm the officer. Based on these facts, your grievance is denied.”
Ebel’s use of the grievance process took a turn in November 2012 when, in handwriting that was remarkably smaller and more frenetic than before, he started asking broader questions of the DOC. He apparently had been released from, then sent back to solitary confinement after a fight with another prisoner involving a knife.
“It’s important that you understand I’m not grieving the ad seg level review…nor your decision regarding my own level review but rather have a few questions regarding your general policy,” he wrote.
He wanted to know the department’s position on self-defense.
“I have a basic and undeniable right as a human being to defend my life. If I’m being attacked with a knife am I just supposed to lie down…?” he asked.
He wanted to know how the DOC justified his placement back in solitary confinement for gang activity when he said the department couldn’t prove any active gang involvement.
And he wanted to know why the department was about to release him directly out of solitary confinement without preparing him for human contact.
The DOC didn’t answer, dismissing his questions “because the grievance procedure cannot be used to review convictions or segregation placement….”
Ebel wasn’t satisfied. On December 12, 2012, he filed a follow-up complaint, starting with “Clearly you didn’t actually read my grievance.” He went on to pose the same three questions to the department.
DOC’s response read as follows: “A Warden review was conducted on October 24, 2012. The decision at that time was that you be retained in Administrative Segregation. It has been your continued negative behavior that has resulted in your retention in your current status. You have been (sic) multiple opportunities to progress as we strive for you to be given opportunities to succeed. I do not see a requested remedy, however, if you are requesting release from Administrative Segregation I need you to understand that AR850-4, Grievance Procedure, section IV.D states, 2. This grievance procedure may not be used to seek review of any of the following: a. Code of Penal Discipline convictions, administrative segregation placements, Parole Board decisions, and decisions of the Reading Committee have exclusive appeal procedures. b. Classification is entirely at the discretion of the administrative head and classification committee of each facility.”
Ebel kept at it, filing yet another follow-up grievance on January 11, 2013.
“Again, now for the third time what I’m looking for here are answers to 3 questions,” he wrote.
Among those questions, again, was the issue of his forthcoming release from prison without step-down programs preparing him for social interaction and life beyond prison walls.
“Do you have an obligation to the public to reclimatize ‘dangerous’ inmates to being around other human beings prior to releasing them into society after they have spent years in solitary confinement? If not, why? The remedy I’m requesting is answers to these 3 questions. Thank you.”
DOC’s non-answer about Ebel’s messy handwriting was written two weeks after his release. By then, he was living in Commerce City and confiding in his friend, parolee and former CSP inmate Ryan Pettigrew, about his struggles adjusting to regular social interaction, handshakes, eye contact and other aspects of life outside isolation. Text messages from Ebel show he was anxious about his freedom and tempted by the urge to ease that anxiety through violence.
“…im just feeling peculiar & the only way i know i know to remedy that is via use of ‘violence’ even if that ‘violence’ be something as petty & inconsequential as a fist fight which id prefer be with someone i can trust as opposed to some renegade civilian who odds are will tell,” Ebel texted Pettigrew in mid-February, just as his grievance officer was citing problems with his penmanship in belatedly dismissing his concerns about his release.
A month later, Ebel is believed to have gunned down the DOC director at his front door in Monument.
Since Clements’ murder, much has been reported that Ebel was released four years early because of a clerical error failing to log his additional sentence for the attack on a prison guard. Questions also have been raised about why Ebel’s sentence was cut for participating in rehabilitation programs that he didn’t complete. In Clements’ honor, state lawmakers are contemplating measures to prevent such errors and loopholes in the future.
What’s not slated for consideration in the remaining 12 days of the legislative session is one of Clements’ top priorities: to improve rehabilitation services and end DOC’s practice of letting prisoners walk straight from isolation onto the streets. Clements wanted step-down programs and longer transition periods instead of releasing prisoners directly from solitary confinement.
“You have to ask yourself the question – How does holding inmates in administrative segregation and then putting them out on a bus into the public, [how does that] square up?” Clements said in an interview last year. “We have to think about how what we do in prisons impacts the community when [prisoners] leave. It’s not just about running the prison safely and securely. There’s a lot of research around solitary and isolation in recent years, some tied to POWs and some to corrections. My experience tells me that long periods of isolation can be counter-productive to stable behavior and long-term rehabilitation goals.”