Hard Time

The oldest lifer in Colorado prisons is dying to be anywhere but here.

Boardmembers Richard Martinez and Rod Gomez sat behind a desk, Madson and Turley on either side. The two officials reviewed a letter from Prairie View. They reviewed a letter from Dr. Diane Al-Abduljalil. They asked Madson why he should be paroled. They asked about the murders of Stevens and Van Hee. They asked if he had drug or alcohol problems. They asked if he was taking medication. They asked if he could walk.

Madson replied: He shot Stevens in self-defense; he did not kill Van Hee; he did not have drug or alcohol problems; he takes only aspirin; he can walk forty feet.

"If you don't want me to die in here, you better haul me to that facility," he said.

Then Turley spoke: She definitely thought Madson was guilty but did not seek the death penalty in 1979 because she did not believe in capital punishment. She also had been promised by the district attorney that Madson would never be paroled. Why were they even discussing it? She has three very tough brothers. She did not think it would be in Madson's best interests to walk the streets.

"I do not want him free," Turley said. "Consider our family."

After eleven minutes, the hearing concluded.

"Do you have anything else to add?" Martinez asked.

"Only that I just go to that center," Madson replied. "I don't want to die in here."

That same day, the board issued its ruling: Parole denied.

Martinez and Gomez checked two boxes on a one-page form: "Aggravating circumstances; inadequate time served, circumstances of offense" and "Risk control problems, needs continued correctional treatment."

"From a medical viewpoint, he is very ill and could possibly live better in a nursing home, but that does not detract from the fact that he committed two murders," Martinez explains. "Physically, chronologically, he's not in the best of condition, but murders have been committed by people in their eighties and nineties. It's possible he could pose a risk. Overall, the primary reason was the heinousness of his crimes. He certainly did not show much victim empathy. We are a conservative board. I am a conservative man. I did not do this in the punitive sense. It was a cost-benefit analysis. I think he has been handled accordingly as far as the wheels of justice go."

His case manager has presented his file to three halfway houses in three different counties, but each has rejected him.

Madson is up for parole again in three years, but Cherner doubts he will live that long.

For the moment, the system has spoken: He is where he belongs.

In prison.

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