Tom Clements, Department of Corrections chief, murdered at home: Assassination?
The crime bears all the marks of an assassination: A political appointee with a high-profile position overseeing the state's prison system answers his door one night and is immediately shot in the chest by an unknown assailant.
Photos, video below.
We have no confirmation at this writing that the attack was carefully planned rather than random. But we know that Tom Clements, Colorado's Department of Corrections executive director, is dead, and police statewide are moving quickly in an effort to capture the person behind the gun. Details, photos and video below.
In February 2011, our Alan Prendergast provided us with the basics about the corrections boss in a post entitled, "Tom Clements, new Colorado prison chief: Can he bust out of the state's revolving door?" Here's an excerpt:
Clements's official photo.
A 31-year veteran of the corrections system in Missouri, [Clements] started out as a parole officer in St. Louis and has great familiarity with what are now known in the business as "re-entry issues." Years ago, as a top official overseeing Missouri's 30,500 offenders, he supported an effort to shift in that state from hard-line, lock-em-up management to a greater emphasis on work, substance abuse treatment, and incentive programs designed to prepare inmates for life back in society. The approach was known as "Parallel Universe" -- the premise being that prison shouldn't be about totally controlling felons (and allowing them to sit around on their asses), but should more closely resemble a real-world regimen of work, earned awards and accountability.As Predergast pointed out, data proving or disproving the effectiveness of this approach was wanting -- but "Clements is now in a position to bring such ideas to wider circulation in Colorado's cells, while bringing a fresh perspective to a prison system that badly needs one."
In the two years or so since then, Clements has taken part in some bold efforts, including the proposed shutdown of Fort Lyon Correctional Facility, which Predergast described in another February 2011 post as "a geriatric hoosegow on the eastern plains that was supposed to be a bargain and turned into a money pit and a health hazard." Prisoners were reportedly moved out of Fort Lyon in March 2012.
Tom Clements with Governor John Hickenlooper at a hearing about the closing of Fort Lyon Correctional Facility.
Earlier this year, Clements made news again when he denied the clemency application of Darrell Havens, a paralyzed inmate in need for surgery. But in general, Prendergast tells us, he was widely viewed as a reformer, not a man bent on harsh systemic crackdowns.
Not that his every move was followed closely in the press. Indeed, Clements was hardly a constant presence in the headlines when the following tweet was sent out last night by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office about an address in Monument:
Clements lived on Colonial Park Drive in Monument.
Sheriffs Office investigating a shooting in the 17400 block of Colonial Park Dr.One adult male deceased. No known suspect description— EPCSheriff (@EPCSheriff) March 20, 2013
According to CBS4. Clements was shot around 8:30 p.m. last night after opening his front door.
Continue for more about the death of Tom Clements, including photos and videos.