A group of inmates long-eligible for parole in Colorado's prisons have filed a "Class Action" claim in the form of a motion for a "Declaratory Judgment" in District Court 13, Logan County on September 16, 2005. The motion asks the court to clarify the Board of Parole's policy and practices in light of the Colorado statutory "Parole Guidelines." The suit alleges that the BoP's decisions in granting or denying parole have more to do with Governor Bill Owens' biases in appointing and dictating to Board of Parole officials, that they have adopted a de facto "no parole" policy and put it into practice without regard for the statutes and laws on the books. The class of inmates, if the case is accepted by the court, would include those who were sentenced to prison for felony offenses between 7-1-85 and 7-1-93, and who are eligible for parole. The number of inmates involved is estimated to be well over 1000. The record shows that Colorado's prisons are full and very few inmates are granted parole since Governor Owens took office.
The Colorado Parole Guidelines were developed by the Colorado Criminal Justice system and voted into law by the Legislature in 1985 [see CRS 17-22.5 (404)]. The inmates allege that these Guidelines have not been applied properly by the Board of Parole, and that, as a result, most of the inmates eligible for parole remain in prison, at a very high cost to Colorado's taxpayers. The motion further alleges that Governor Owens' appointees to the Board of Parole, under his personal guidance, have systematically circumvented and violated the legislature's Parole Guidelines, in both word and spirit, and at the expense of the integrity of Colorado's corrections system and with the taxpayers footing the bill. Further, the suit alleges that the Board of Parole is following the Governor's personal and political agenda by adopting a de facto "no-parole" practice, which has resulted in the burgeoning inmate population and full prisons. This artificially-created expansion is at a high cost to the taxpayers and to the causes of justice and rehabilitation of inmates by the corrections system in Colorado. The cost of the former: approx. $57 million per year; the cost of the latter: incalculable.
The Parole Class Action motion asks for the courts to investigate parole-determination practices of the appointed Board of Parole and its apparent policy in determining parole, and to compare their policy and practices to the applicable Colorado statues. The plaintiffs are seeking neither guaranteed parole nor special treatment - only that the laws in place and applicable to them be justly applied.
While the suit does not address directly the dynamics and drivers involved in the illegalities that they allege, the implications are clear that the private prison contractors and their lobbying power are behind the scenes and supporting the growth of the prison population and their accommodation of the growing numbers. As Daniel Immel (plaintiff) points out in the motion, the Board of Parole has regularly turned down his requests for transfer to his home state of Ohio. It seems that prisoners have become a very valuable commodity for the prisons in Colorado.
NOTE: The plaintiffs strongly encourage you to look into and report on this important set of issues, their serious implications for citizens across Colorado and what has been and continues to be perpetrated by the parole board and by the private prison contractor lobbies on both the inmates AND the taxpayers in Colorado and other states. It seems that inmates have become very valuable commodities to those who benefit most from full prisons!
Register your Colorado Inmates' Parole ComplaintIf you are in inmate at a Colorado prison and have been passed over for parole, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a possible class action lawsuit. Please fill in our form on the right to submit your complaint and we will have a lawyer review your Colorado Inmates' Parole complaint.
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