Greeley Police Chief Mark Jones thinks the state’s prison and parole system need fixing. He stood in front of a camera last month and delivered a message of concern to the people of Greeley on Facebook.
Jones spoke of a gang member who committed second-degree murder in 1997 and was recently granted discretionary parole, meaning he gets to leave prison before his sentence is up.
“While he was in prison he violently stabbed another inmate and yet he’s still being released even though his mandatory release date wasn’t supposed to be until April of 2043,” Jones said.
Gov. Jared Polis has made it clear that he wants to reduce overcrowding, signing several criminal justice reform bills into law last month including one that increases the number of inmates that can be considered for parole when vacancy rates hit 3%. Prison vacancy rates have remained under 2% since November 2017.
The parole board has released more people to parole in each of the last three months than it has in any of the previous 20 months the Department of Corrections provided data for.
That’s encouraging to State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver who sponsored more than a dozen criminal justice reform bills last session. This includes one bill signed last month that aims to increase the number of non-violent offenders eligible for parole in order to connect them to re-entry services.
So, she wasn’t thrilled about Jones' video calling the prison and parole system “broken.”
“I feel like it's fear mongering at its worse,” Herod said. “Nothing in the reform bills that we passed this year affect violent offenders. In fact, each provision that we passed, each bill, specifically excludes violent offenders.”
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