You may have seen the Department of Corrections pop up in the news these past few days, we certainly did. The Denver Post has published two stories detailing some questionable practices by the department.
The first story concerned a $280,000 settlement with a whistle-blower at DOC headquarters. These payouts can be disheartening to officers as they see money going out that could have been spent on making facilities safer. Even more concerning are the allegations against DOC. The former director of DOC’s Office of Planning and Analysis alleged the department was falsifying figures about the number of mentally ill people in solitary confinement and the number of inmates released from solitary directly back into their communities. She also alleged that DOC simply renamed programs they are trying to phase out in order for their numbers to match their reports.
The second story details the account of a parolee touted as a success story before eventually being arrested as a murder suspect. In December, Parole Deputy Director Alison Morgan testified in front of the legislature and praised the collaboration between parole, mental health and community-based organizations in helping the parolee cope with mental health issues while in custody. About two weeks after the testimony the parolee was arrested for allegedly stabbing a homeless man to death, less than 2 blocks away from the parole office.
While we were unaware of these particular incidents, these stories reinforce what Colorado WINS members have been saying all along: there are serious issues with the reforms instituted by DOC management.
When will the department decide to listen to front-line staff?