DENVER - The murder of Colorado corrections chief Tom Clements exposed a swath of issues and outright mistakes in the system designed to protect us from potentially dangerous offenders.
To that end, with a little more than a month left in this legislative session, state lawmakers are considering what changes might help prevent future incidents.
The murder case wound its way into the state budget debate on Thursday, with a special focus on the lengthy delay before parole officers investigated an alert from the monitoring bracelet worn by suspected killer Evan Ebel, who died in a shootout with authorities in Texas.
House members voted in favor of a budget amendment to add nearly $446,000 to hire more parole and probation officers.
The added funding won't answer all the questions around that problem, but amendment sponsor Rep. Dan Pabon (D-Denver) says it's something that can be done to help right now.
"I think those procedures associated with the bracelet need to be looked at," Pabon said. "But what I understand is that the parole division overall has a caseload that is skyrocketing. And if we're going to actively monitor and enforce our parolees, we need to make sure that we've got boots on the ground to do that."
The proposal is yet to be finalized, passing over strong objection to the fact that the officers are funded by cutting reimbursement rates paid by the state to private prisons.
The Senate would have to agree to the spending change as well.
Former House Speaker Frank McNulty (R-Highlands Ranch) also wants to see some policy changes made. He's upset over the error made by a Colorado court that led Ebel to be released four years early.
The judge intended to hand Ebel an additional four years in prison, but due to the error his sentence was administered consecutively with his prior sentence by default.
"We can address that issue by having a default position that sentences are served consecutively if there is any question about whether they should be served concurrently or consecutively," McNulty said.
Lawmakers also have concerns about the use of solitary confinement, which was an issue dear to the late prisons chief. They're scrutinizing a 2011 law that allows inmates to accrue time off while in solitary confinement.
Any policy proposals at this point would require approval from the Democratic leadership to be run as late bills.
House Speaker Mark Ferrandino tells 9NEWS he's open to a late bill to make sensible policy changes, but cautions he wants to be careful not to overreact by making sweeping changes to state law over one incident.
Ferrandino also expressed some concern that cracking down on inmates could run counter to the goals that the late Tom Clements was trying to achieve.
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