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Hick's boost in parole spending a start -- but not a fix?

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Hickenlooper and Raemisch.
After the murder of Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements last spring by parole absconder Evan Ebel , it was obvious that the state's creaky, overburdened parole system was overdue for some serious scrutiny. Now, Governor John Hickenlooper has proposed a 25 percent boost in the parole budget for next year, in an effort to fill some of the gaping holes exposed by the assassination of the man he brought to Colorado to overhaul its prisons. But will it be enough to restore confidence in a system that's proven more adept at reaction than reform?

Hickenlooper and new DOC director Rick Raemisch have acknowledged repeatedly that the state needs to come up with more efficient offender management policies and, particularly, improved training of officers charged with the electronic monitoring of high-risk parolees -- key deficiencies identified in a National Institute of Corrections report released in August. Throwing another $10 million at the problem -- not such a hefty sum, when you take into account how little of DOC's $650 million annual operating budget actually goes to any kind of reentry programs -- won't fix it, but Raemisch has also stressed the need for a larger "culture change" within the system.

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Evan Ebel.
The grim truth is that many of the most troubling problems with Colorado's approach to parole can't be addressed by simply adding more officers to the street. The state went to a mandatory parole system back in the 1990s, requiring offenders to complete a parole period at the end of their sentences, regardless of whether they behaved well and qualified for "early release" (discetionary parole) or not. The result was that almost no one got out early, the incentive for inmates to work hard to prepare for release largely evaporated, and the rate of parole failures skyrocketed.

Under Clements, attention to viable reentry strategies became paramount -- but it's slow going in a system built around revolving doors, as Raemisch is finding out. Another critical component of reform involves reducing the state's over-reliance on solitary confinement as a management tool, which has led to disturbed, violent cases like Ebel being released directly from years of "ad-seg" to the street. Or, as Ebel himself put it in a series of grievances filed with prison officials shortly before he got out, cut off his ankle monitor and went on his last rampage: "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?"

Thanks to Clements, the DOC has reduced the percentage of its population in solitary confinement by half in recent years. But there's more work to be done there and in other areas that form pieces of the puzzle. A DOC document cited in this morning's Denver Post article on the budget hike states that current reentry efforts are still "inadequate to ameliorate offenders sufficiently to meet the demands of parole." The notion that the prison system can "ameliorate" offenders without ameliorating itself may be one of the biggest problems of all.

More from our Prison Life archive circa August: "Prison system needs improved monitoring, 'change of culture,' new chief says."


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17 comments
GuestWho
GuestWho topcommenter

Why do we imprison people for victimless crimes?  If there is no victim, there should be no jail time.  Save that space in for the real threats to society like holmes, kaczynski, and madoff.

MoronCircus
MoronCircus

Until our penal institutions CEASE to be psychopath factories for otherwise non-violent offenders, it will continue to churn out psychos. This assures the state a high recidivism rate so they can keep their beds full. We are locking more and more people up for crimes that aren't really crimes and as a result of the state's greed and corruption, society will continue to pay the price....Very idiotic system enforced by even bigger idiots that we have here.....

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

I understood that a Federal court had ordered the DOC to stop holding most of its inmates in twenty-three-hour-per-day lockdown, but you attribute the decline in this State-administered torture to Mr. Clements -- some clarity is needed.  Our idiot governor cannot even conceive of the truth -- that we put too many people in prison in the first place -- and instead proposes to increase the funding of a system that does not work.  Fascists instituted mandatory parole in order to redouble punishment, and rather than try to rescind this arbitrary, inappropriate program, Hack just wants to throw more money at it.  Hack is just as much of a fascist as the rabid animals who instituted mandatory parole.

Pam199
Pam199

Thank you Alan for going deeper into the issue.  The thought that more parole officers is going to fix this problem is absurd.  Perhaps DOC could fund community efforts that work to help people get what they really need, whether it's medication, housing or a job.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Tragadies? A slaver gets killed and that´s tragic?

Adam Laarsen
Adam Laarsen

These fucking politicians think money is the only answer. I think maybe the answer would be pulling your head out of your ass and thinking how you can manage the system effectively and efficiently. Of course, that won't happen because this a government we're talking about.

stupidstuka
stupidstuka

Stop putting so many citizens in prison and there won't be so many people on parole.

hth.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@_McShyster_ My mistake, not Alan's. It's been corrected. Thanks for setting us straight, McShyster.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@MoronCircus Passionate post, MoronCircus. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

stupidstuka
stupidstuka

Robert Chase = pathological liar with zero credibility.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

@Charles Gleason tragedies

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@Adam Laarsen Tough stuff. Thanks for the post, Adam.

_McShyster_
_McShyster_

@michael.roberts "My mistake"

Typical careless stoner ... like when you FALSELY claimed the pathetic illegal hemp harvest is SE Colorado was the "First Legal" harvest, or when you regurgitate the abject lies of the Pot Pimps.

PS: How many eighths are in an ounce?

LOL!.

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