Prison review finds possible errors in more than half of Colorado sentences

Posted: June 8, 2013 in local news
Tags: , ,

By Kirk Mitchell
The Denver Post

Colorado authorities have determined that 1,211 prisoners possibly have errors in their sentencing documents that reduced their prison sentences, state corrections officials say.

That is 53 percent of the total recently reviewed in an audit. The review found that 1,060 cases, or 47 percent, are acceptable, according to a jointnews releaseby the Colorado Department of Corrections and the Colorado Judicial Department.

“We are not the experts,” DOC spokeswoman Alison Morgan said. “We believe those files merit judicial review.”

Judges are reviewing case files so they can decide which cases should be amended. In some cases, offenders are being returned from parole or community supervision and some offenders are being notified of longer prison sentences.

This isthe second release of information by the DOCincompliancewith an audit ordered by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The review came after it was learned that parolee Evan Ebel, suspected of killing former corrections chief Tom Clements and pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon, was released four years early because of a clerical error.

While in prison, Ebel was sentenced to a four-year prison term for assaulting acorrectional officer. But when a judge failed to indicate that the sentence was to be served consecutively, DOC automatically interpreted the oversight to mean the sentence was concurrent.

Previously, DOC officials found “serious questions” in the sentences of 349 inmates either already released from prison or scheduled for release, corrections officials said. Of those, judges amended sentences in 56 cases.

The state initially identified 8,415 individuals whose sentences needed reviews. That number increased to 8,607, which will be reviewed in part because new convicts have entered the prison system. All but 972 files have been reviewed, Morgan said.

So far, the judicial department has determined that of the 694 cases they have reviewed, 129 court orders impacting 124 offenders needed to be amended.

The other 565 cases were affirmed. In these cases, a judge can affirm a concurrent sentence is appropriate depending on the facts of an individual case.

In some instances a determination is hampered because the original sentencing judge has retired or died.

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206, kmitchell@denverpost.com or twitter.com/kmitchelldp

Read more:Prison review finds possible errors in more than half of Colorado sentences – The Denver Posthttp://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_23404441/prison-sentencing-review-finds-possible-errors-more-than#ixzz2VfolTuw6
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