January 6, 2017

Colorado wasting as much as $44 million a year in sex-offender program, audit says

1-6-17 Colorado:

State Rep. Joe Salazar criticizes department over delays in getting treatment to prisoners

Colorado’s Department of Corrections is wasting as much as $44 million annually because it has not fixed problems in a treatment program intended to prepare sex offenders for release from prison, a recent state audit found.

An analysis by auditors showed that nearly 1,300 prisoners in December 2015 had passed their parole eligibility date but had not received sex-offender treatment. It determined the potential cost to taxpayers by calculating the annual cost for their prolonged incarceration.

Delays in treatment are especially problematic for lifetime-supervision offenders, who must complete the treatment before they can be released from prison, according to the audit. Problems in the department’s Sex Offender Treatment and Monitoring program effectively keep these offenders in prison indefinitely. Others, who face fixed sentences, are released without treatment that is supposed to reduce recidivism, according to the audit.

“When the Department does not effectively allocate its limited resources and does not establish and maintain a working system to prioritize and enroll the sex offenders most in need of treatment while incarcerated, it creates significant public safety risks, inequities, negative financial impacts, and negative impacts on treatment effectiveness,” the performance audit from state auditor Dianne Ray’s office said.

While conceding many of the audit’s findings, corrections officials say that most of those who have not completed the treatment either did not want to enroll or failed to complete the program. The audit was released in November but provoked blistering criticism from legislators during a joint Judiciary Committee hearing this week. ..Continued.. by Christopher N. Osher

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