In the past nine months, 10 Colorado felons were charged with murder or attempted murder for crimes that authorities said were committed while they were supposed to be under the supervision of state probation officers, the Denver Post reports. The crimes include the March 18 fatal shooting of a college football player, the killing of a sheriff’s deputy, and the death of a 16-year-old girl who was mutilated.
Three felons, none of whom were allowed to possess firearms as a condition of their probation, shot at police officers, wounding two of them. As legislators discuss ways to reduce expensive prison populations, perhaps putting more people on probation, the rash of probationers charged with new crimes raises questions about whether the state is effectively balancing the responsibility of rehabilitating offenders with public safety. “I know how serious and upsetting it is to us — especially the officers in the field — when cases end tragically like this,” said Tom Quinn, director of the state’s Division of Probation Services. The department will consider conducting formal reviews of cases in which probationers commit new violent crimes, something it currently does not do.