In Las Vegas, a parole officer arrives at an offender’s doorstep within an hour after an ankle-monitor alarm sounds. In Michigan, a warrant is issued within two hours. In Colorado, reports the Denver Post, it took five days for a parole officer to get to the house of Evan Ebel, suspected killer of the state corrections director, and find his discarded ankle bracelet, and six days to get a warrant issued for his arrest. Protocols for catching a runaway parolee in other states are driven by high-pressure guidelines on a round-the-clock timetable, so cutting an ankle bracelet is considered much like sawing through prison bars.
That isn’t the case in Colorado, where even the most dangerous parolees can slip off the radar for days without triggering any aggressive response. The delays show the pressures on a system strained by 550 ankle-bracelet alarms a month and parole officers with caseloads of up to 50 parolees on intensive supervision. The industry standard is 20. “I think this is what happens when we’re unable to fund the essential functions of government,” said Mike Feeley, a former Democratic minority leader in the Colorado Senate who now lobbies on prison-related matters. “Clearly, the Department of Corrections is in serious need of retooling and refocusing but can only do so with adequate resources.”