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‘Serious Deficiencies’ In Parole To Be Examined

Legislative Hearings Thursday, Friday
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Warren Watson in court on March 26, 2013 (credit: CBS)

Warren Watson in court on March 26, 2013 (credit: CBS)

Investigates
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Investigator Brian Maass

DENVER (CBS4)- The Joint Judiciary Committee of the Colorado Legislature will hold hearings Thursday and Friday into what committee chairs call “serious deficiencies in the operations of Intensive Supervision Parole.”

On the eve of those hearings, a man has decided to speak out after his ex-wife was murdered, allegedly at the hands of a parolee released from prison three years early.

“If you take a lion that hadn’t bit anyone in 10 years and you put him on the street and he bites someone, do you blame the lion? I don’t think so. I think you blame it on the way you decided and how you decided to put the person out on the street,” said Doug Miller.

Miller was married to Claudia Miller, a grandmother who was also a lawyer and was found sexually assaulted and murdered in her Lakewood office in March.

Police say parolee Warren Watson confessed to the crime.

“Someone may not have analyzed his situation as well as they should have,” said Doug Miller.

A CBS4 Investigation into the Miller murder found that Colorado’s parole board released Warren Watson from prison three years early, terming him a “low risk” for recidivism.

But the CBS4 probe found that Watson had a long history of escaping from parole situations.

He had previously escaped or absconded from parole six times before doing it again this past March and allegedly murdering Claudia Miller. When he was released from prison early, the parole division had the option of placing Watson on Intensive Supervised Parole, which would have meant electronic monitoring and daily contact with a parole officer.

Instead, the decision was made to put Watson on “regular” parole which meant very little interaction with a parole officer and minimal monitoring.

Dr. Anthony Young, the chairman of the parole board at the time of Warren Watson’s release, was asked if the parole board had made a bad decision in granting parole to Watson.

“Mr. Watson made a bad decision in committing another offense,” responded Young.

That response does not sit well with Doug Miller.

“Warren Watson would not have been able to make that decision if they had not put him out three years early,” said Miller. “Claudia is dead. She is not data, she is not a number and this guy was not paying attention to that.”

Miller said he hopes the two day hearing results in parole authorities making “some decisions that prevent people from getting killed.”

The hearings will look at issues surrounding electronic monitoring, intensive supervision parole, the parole board and the parole system and transitioning offenders from prison to parole.

Legislative leaders have said that the hearings are a result of problems in the Intensive Supervision Parole system coming to light. They hope to learn what steps the Department of Corrections has taken in recent months “to remedy the deficiencies in ISP and to ascertain whether those steps adequately protect the public.”

In a June 12 letter requesting the hearings, Rep. Bob Gardner, the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary, and Minority Leader Mark Waller wrote that “information continues to emerge as a result of investigative reporting by CBS4 News demonstrating that ISP has not been adequately administered to supervise dangerous criminals.”

“There are things missing that are causing these guys to fall through the cracks and we can’t afford to have one of them fall through the cracks,” said Doug Miller.

- Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com

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