State Sens. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs and Julie Gonzales of Denver, and state Rep. Leslie Herod of Denver — have some explaining to do. Especially, to the grieving loved ones of 27-year-old Allison Scarfone.
Scarfone was raped and killed in Colorado Springs last month. Her alleged killer was on parole at the time — despite several parole violations — thanks at least in part to the three notoriously soft-on-crime lawmakers.
The Gazette reported Friday that 39-year-old Gregory Whittemore — arrested Oct. 10 by Colorado Springs police, who found Scarfone’s body in a garage — had breached a number of the terms of his release. Whittemore was already a convicted sex offender who had raped an employee at a Colorado Springs massage parlor and nearly killed her when he bashed her head against a brick wall. While awaiting proceedings on those charges, Whittemore fled at one point to South Carolina and was found living in his car with a 16-year-old runway girl.
Yet, his parole officers were blocked by a 2019 law from sending him back to prison. The three lawmakers sponsored Senate Bill 143, restricting parole officers’ ability to return convicts to the slammer over the types of issues that surfaced while Whittemore was on parole. Under the law, a range of what are deemed technical violations no longer can result in parole revocation.
According to parole records examined by The Gazette, Whittemore’s “technical violations” were hardly technicalities given his criminal history. They were warnings of imminent danger.
A parole officer in one instance had ordered Whittemore to move due to “negative influences” at one home after the parole officer found photos of women and messages from them on his cell phone. Another parole officer forced him to quit a job at a convenience store after a complaint that Whittemore had made inappropriate comments to a 17-year-old girl.
Such infractions could have gotten him taken off the streets before the 2019 law. Instead, he remained on parole — resulting, allegedly, in tragedy. Police say they arrested Whittemore hours after an argument and ensuing fit of “rage” led him to kill Scarfone.
Parole is not supposed to be a full return to freedom. It does not restore all the rights of a law-abiding citizen, and for good reason. Convicts must earn trust over again. Parole is granted with conditions attached, typically to keep a convict on the straight and narrow and to help avoid the temptations that had led to the convict’s incarceration. If those conditions are not met, parole officers need the power and flexibility to revoke parole — for the good of society.
This heartbreaking, chilling and infuriating crime amounts to Exhibit A in the case for rolling back the reckless “justice reform” agenda hatched by Colorado’s legislature.
As the vanguard of that agenda, Lee, Gonzales and Herod repeatedly have assaulted law and order and ignored public safety with wide-ranging legislation coddling criminals and criminal suspects. Their handiwork has lowered penalties, limited incarceration and undermined law enforcement. All in the name of giving criminals an endless supply of second chances.
Lee, an attorney, is no longer in the legislature to do his damage. Gonzales, on the other hand, has ascended to the Senate’s Democratic leadership. And Herod, while still serving in the House, is now running for Denver mayor. Good grief.
All of them owe the public an explanation: How could giving a rage-prone, convicted sex offender the benefit of the doubt possibly be a higher priority than averting the kind of tragedy that allegedly resulted from his release?
Colorado Springs Gazette Editorial Board