Hundreds of Colorado Inmates Accidentally Released

| by Emily Smith
article imagearticle image

Hundreds of Colorado inmates were released early after various clerical errors within the Colorado court system pushed forward release dates.

A number of prisoners already released now reside in halfway houses or correctional facilities.

"I think it would be logical to be concerned," Roger Werholtz, the interim executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections, said. "There is always the potential for someone to go out and harm citizens of the community, and that's what we do our best to minimize."

Gov. John Hickenlooper has ordered an audit of the cases, after the murder of Colorado’s prison chief Tom Clements, who was killed by an inmate released four years earlier than his sentence called for.

Prison officials have alerted courts to 281 inmates whose sentences were incorrect, though some 2,000 cases will be reviewed by auditors to determine if any more mistakes have been made. It is believed that about 56 percent of the cases involved faulty sentencing.

"The audit is doing what it was supposed to do,” Eric Brown, Hickenlooper spokesman, said, “and we are working with the courts to correct any errors found.”

The audit will not be complete until July.

Werholtz said that many of the prisoners released are relatively harmless, though caution is still advised. According to the Coloroda Department of Corrections, ten percent of inmates are active gang members.

“I cannot promise certainty.” He said.

Sources: Gawker, KOAA