Though last month it was announced that Colorado parole officers would be ordered to respond to alerts from parolees' electronic monitoring equipment within two hours, recent data released by the Department of Corrections shows that could be easier said than done.
Colorado parole officers say they have received 89,000 alerts generated by monitoring devices in the last six months alone, and they only have a team of 212 officers on hand to respond to those alerts. The DOC further estimates that 3 parolees cut off their bracelets a day in Colorado.
"If we responded to all 89,000 of these, you see our officers would be working 24/7,” Shaun McGuire, Community Parole Manager for the state told 7News.
After the killing of the state's corrections chief Tom Clements last month, allegedly by former white supremacist gang member Evan Spencer Ebel, it was discovered that Ebel had slipped his ankle bracelet though authorities did not pursue him for six days. It took officers five days to realize he was on the run and another to issue a warrant for his arrest.
Ebel had been released Jan. 28 straight from solitary confinement and was reportedly flagged as being at a high risk to re-offend, but as fact sheets released from the Colorado DOC show, parole officers are deluged with cases.
But within those five days Ebel was on the run, both Clements and Nathan Leon, a father of three, were killed and Ebel fled to Texas where he would be pronounced dead in a shootout with authorities two days later.
DOC spokeswoman Alison Morgan told The Denver Post that responding to the immense volume of "tamper" alerts often leaves room for discretion.
"The discretion for a response is up to the parole officer who knows the offender's file and knows the offender's behavior," Morgan said. "This world is not black and white, and offenders in it are not interacting in a black-and-white fashion."
Clarification: This post has been amended to clarify the number of incidents reported to the Colorado Department of Corrections. The state's DOC has received 89,000 total alerts in the past six months and they estimate that three ankle monitors are being cut off a day.