As the Denver Post recently reported, the decision-making process for revoking a parolee back to prison now flows exclusively through a bottleneck of two persons in the Department of Corrections parole division before a final revocation hearing can even happen with the state parole board.
These decisions are now currently vested with the director and deputy director of parole, which, in the current circumstances, would be Melissa Roberts and Alison Morgan respectively.
It is no great leap then to say the success or failure of numerous parole programs – and the successes or failures of some parolees – all rely heavily on the judgment and decisions of these two individuals.
However, parole officers who have spoken with Complete Colorado on a condition of anonymity have complained that Morgan, in particular, has never worked in any capacity that would give her day-to-day front-line experience with criminals, such as working as a police officer, or working as a front-line parole officer or supervisor. They further claim this lack of front-line experience is a hindrance to the overall performance of the department.
This report will also detail a new break in a case where an offender who has faced numerous charges of escape dating back to 2004 cut off his ankle monitor within one day of being placed on parole, but Morgan interceded and directed parole officers not to file escape charges.
Finally, this report will also add more context to the Calvin Johnson case, specifically, Morgan’s response to an explosive incident with Johnson at a urinalysis clinic.
According to all available information online, Morgan’s résumé consists primarily of having been a government spokesperson for the DOC.
In an email to DOC spokeswoman Laurie Kilpatrick, Complete Colorado asked directly, “Do either Ms. Roberts or Ms. Morgan have experience as a police officer or sheriff’s deputy? As a parole officer? As a corrections officer? Have either made an arrest on an individual in any capacity?”
Kilpatrick responded, “Ms. Roberts was a Probation/Parole Agent in the state of WI. Ms. Roberts and Ms. Morgan both have Corrections experience.”
In other words, Director of Parole Roberts has direct parole experience, but Deputy Director of Parole Morgan has not served in a position in which she has dealt in a one-on-one capacity with offenders. The DOC did add that Morgan previously was an Associate Director of Prison Operations as the Chief of the Private Prison Monitoring Unit.
By contrast, according to a New York Times profile, it was precisely the law enforcement experience of Rick Raemsich that led Governor Hickenlooper to name him as the executive director of the department in the aftermath of the assassination of the former director, Tom Clements.
According to the Times, Hickenlooper, “was impressed by Mr. Raemisch’s law enforcement background and by his determination to proceed slowly and with a constant eye to safety, asked him to pick up where Mr. Clements had left off.”
Additionally, it would seem at least mildly curious that the DOC did not allow Morgan to answer questions to Denver Post reporters working on a major report on parole, given her extensive background in public affairs and being the DOC’s spokeswoman for a number of years.
Complete Colorado has asked for the résumés and other pertinent documents relating to the experience of both individuals, and those results are expected soon from the DOC.
According to an incident report from March 15, offender Christopher Clifton cut off his ankle monitor less than one day after being released on parole.
The same document claims that Clifton belongs to a violent white supremacist gang, and further states:
“(Clifton) is a multi-state offender with crimes in Idaho, California, and Colorado: his arrests consist of, first degree criminal trespass, theft, auto theft, contempt of court, obstructing a peace officer, fraud, impersonation, resisting arrest, numerous felony filings for dangerous drugs and habitual felony escape; with over 30 felonies in the state of Colorado alone.”
The document ends by saying, “Mr. Clifton’s, (sic) escape was staffed with Deputy Director Alison Morgan of the Division of Adult Parole; she has mandated officers not to file an escape filing at this time.”
Clifton’s criminal history is lengthy, dating back to 1999, and includes several charges of escape from several jurisdictions in Colorado.
Calvin Johnson case
(Note: This portion of the article directly quotes emails and notes from government documents which contain profane and sexually violent language. The language is not censored or redacted.)
Complete Colorado has already documented numerous troubling instances and missed red flags with the case of Calvin Johnson, a parolee who currently faces first-degree murder charges in the New Year’s Day stabbing death of homeless man Teodoro Leon III.
However, emails obtained via the open records act show that Morgan’s influence was likely the key overriding factor that kept Johnson from being arrested, and away from a parole board revocation hearing.
In November, Johnson exploded in a tirade at a urinalysis clinic.
In an email, a parole officer repeated a description of what transpired according to the urinalysis clinic manager, writing:
Here is a brief synopsis of the phone call I received from (name withheld), Program Manager at Denver BI. I apologize in advance for the vulgarity of the remarks, but these were taken directly from the program manager.
(Manager) reported Johnson reported to submit a UA today at Denver BI and asked Johnson to remove his coat and backpack per company policy. Johnson proceeded to get extremely agitated and told staff that they are all “cocksuckers”, “If you fuck with me ill (sic) fuck with you”, told female staff that “he would eat their pussy”, numerous insults involving “dick-sucking mother fuckers”, as well as told female staff that he had a gun. He eventually did submit a UA test, however, he did not leave even after staff asked him to leave multiple times. Eventually staff grabbed his belongings and escorted him off the premises. (Manager) stated that his staff is very rattled by this incident and they all fear for their safety.
Once aware of the situation and the above summary, Morgan responded:
This is Mr. Johnson’s standard response mode. He thinks he wins through intimidation. It is not appropriate. But lets give Mr. Johnson credit for showing up for a UA. I think Mr. Johnson wants us to arrest him. We need to address his inappropriate behavior and talk to him about appropriate conversations…. …I am happy to talk to BI (the urinalysis clinic) tomorrow but they need to understand Calvin’s issues and patterns of behavior and quite possibly we find a different mechanism to test Calvin.
Meanwhile, in an email chain which did not include Deputy Director Morgan, the parole supervisor who had originally given an “OK” to arrest Johnson just a few weeks earlier seemed exasperated with the new developments, telling a colleague, “I think I’m at a loss for what we are allowed to do with the case.”
However, it is also worth noting that while Morgan weighed in on Johnson’s behalf (“Let’s give Mr. Johnson credit for showing up…”), the decision not to arrest him was made that night by a parole manager, and not by Morgan.
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