DENVER (CBS4)– Four months after a CBS4 investigation revealed dangerous Colorado parolees were getting lower levels of supervision due to perceived budget problems and after the Department of Corrections vehemently disputed the reports, the agency is now acknowledging the CBS4 investigation was correct.
The CBS4 investigations dated back to April and quoted current and former parole officers as saying high risk parolees were removed from intensive supervised parole or never placed on it in the first place due to ‘program caps’ and ‘fiscal restraints’ within the agency.
That type of parole is the most rigorous requiring electronic monitoring and regular contact with parole officers. It is also the most costly form of parole.
“For as long as I can remember,” said one former parole officer, “We were always told, ‘We’re out of money and we need to take offenders off ISP’ and it had to be done immediately.”
At the time, Alison Morgan, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections, dismissed the CBS4 Investigations and the firsthand accounts of numerous current and former parole officers.
“It’s not accurate,” said Morgan. “It’s just not there, that’s why it was important to come and say on the record it’s not our policy, it’s not our practice and it’s not what we’re doing. Public safety isn’t about dollars.”
But at a news conference Friday, the agency reversed course acknowledging that for years, parole officers and supervisors had been removing offenders from ISP due to perceived budget problems.
“If there’s a person being taken off ISP for fiscal reasons only, that’s wrong,” said Rick Raemisch, Executive Director of the Department of Corrections.
“I can’t stand up here and justify that.”
Raemisch said previous misstatements by the DOC were because “people were given the wrong information from the wrong level.”
Following the CBS4 reports, the Department of Corrections conducted its own investigation and concluded, “a final total of 1198 names in which the assigned parole officer noted the parolee was being removed from ISP because of budget reasons, or the parolee was not placed on ISP because of program caps… it appears the practice is widespread with no evidence of this practice occurring in only isolated areas of parole…”
The report goes on to state, ”The information indicates this practice to be a system wide business practice which was widely accepted, practiced for many years and continues to date.”
Now though, Raemisch said DOC will no longer downgrade the level of supervision received by parolees only based on budget considerations.
At the Friday news conference the state also released two reports by the National Institute of Corrections examining Colorado’s electronic monitoring of parolees and management of offenders. The reports suggest more training is needed for parole staff members.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com