By Ben Warwick

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office released more inmates early on Wednesday. Twenty-seven more inmates left jail early, and 12 more have been transferred to another agency and are still in custody.

(credit: CBS)

Those 12 are inmates that have warrants from other agencies and jurisdictions. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is not cutting back on staffing.

“It’s alarming that we have to release anyone early,” said Mike Taplin, a spokesperson with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. “We put bad guys in jail, people who commit crimes in jail. Unfortunately this is what we have to do.”

The early releases come as the county continues working toward cutting their budget by $5.5 million to meet a budget deficit.

Of the inmates released early Wednesday, about 35 percent were in jail for a DUI, and several were repeat offenders.

The organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, said the release of inmates is concerning to the community.

“We also know the average drunk driver has driven impaired at least 80 times before their first arrest, so we’re not talking about people who have had two or three bad choices. Were talking about potentially hundreds of bad choices,” said Fran Lanzer, Executive Director of MADD Colorado.

Wednesday’s releases bring the total number of inmates to 141. The Sheriff’s Office tells CBS4 their population stands at 1202 inmates, with a new operational capacity of 1148. To qualify for early release, inmates must have served at least 50% of their sentence.

Sheriff Jeff Shrader has previously said the early release “undermines the authority of the judges and the authority of the court. Releasing inmates early, before they have completed their full sentence, is also not the message we want to send to criminals. Unfortunately, it is the action we have to take to meet the budgetary constraints we are currently faced with, and to maintain a safe environment for those who are incarcerated and our employees who work in the jail.”

LINK: Early Release Information

Ben Warwick


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