DENVER (CBS4) – Rick Raemisch, the new executive director of Colorado’s corrections department, on Friday ripped his own parole and corrections departments for having “lax” policies, misguided procedures and a recidivism rate he described as “embarrassingly high.”
Raemisch’s biting comments came on the second day of state legislative hearings looking into a series of blunders and problems revolving around state parolees. A joint House/Senate judiciary committee heard a scathing review of the parole division and the corrections department from an administrator who has been leading the agencies for about two months.
“I don’t think we are properly preparing inmates for release back into the community,” said Raemisch.
He told lawmakers every policy and procedure within the parole and corrections systems is being re-examined.
Raemisch blasted a system that takes dangerous offenders who have been in administrative segregation — also known as solitary confinement — then releases them back into society.
“That’s a recipe for disaster, said Raemisch. “It’s an unacceptable practice.”
Raemisch said the Colorado prison system does a good job of locking people up and keeping them behind bars, the so called ‘steel door’ policy. But he said the follow-through, helping inmates assimilate back into society, is being done poorly.
“There are many things we can do that we are not that will lower the recidivism rate that is embarrassingly high,” he said.
State lawmakers welcomed Raemisch’s no-holds-barred assessment of his agency.
“I certainly appreciate you pointing out the failings within the department,” said state Sen. Steve King, R-Mesa County.
While Raemisch said he was not condemning his own department, he offered a searing view of how the system is working. He said the philosophy of corrections should be to prepare inmates to re-enter the community from the first day they enter prison.
“That’s not being done at this time here.”
He said small details that could help offenders assimilate are being overlooked. For example, he said when parolees are set free from prison, they are not being provided with any sort of state identification, aside from a prison ID. That is crucial to opening a bank account or applying for a job.
Raemisch said inmates have no contact with parole officers until their actual release, when parole officers should begin interacting with parolees while they are still incarcerated.
He told legislators that corrections and parole are not broken.
“But it does have problems that I have seen. All of them can be fixed,” said Raemisch.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com