Chief Michaud Given Parole

It's old home week in the Ritter administration, as multi-pensioned top cops who worked with the guv when he was Denver's DA find new state criminal-justice jobs. Former Denver police chief Ari Zavaras was recruited to try to fix the bloated budget at the Department of Corrections -- again; and today ex-DPD chief Dave Michaud was nominated to head the Colorado Parole Board, a supposedly thankless job that still manages to render $91,428 a year in bare-bones compensation.

Michaud replaces Al Stanley (above), who presided over a board that, through the Owens years, squeezed discretionary parole to a trickle and helped to shape the prison overcrowding problem that we now have.

An alert reader recently wrote to point out that Stanley was never reconfirmed for a third term by the state senate last year, due to a paperwork snafu; technically, this reader insists, the parole board has been operating illegally ever since.

The bigger problem, though, is that in the Owens years the board neatly evaded the statutory requirement to have four ordinary "citizens" among its seven members, in addition to representatives of law enforcement. Stanley's board was made up of two citizens, an ex-parole officer, an ex-police chief, an ex-state trooper, a former corrections officer and Stanley himself, who has thirty years in law enforcement.

Will Michaud's board be any different? That will depend on who else Ritter appoints as vacancies become available. In the meantime, for a better understanding of how the parole failure rate costs us all, check out the feature "Over and Over Again" and "I Shall Be Released," our ongoing blog series about the parole struggles of Casey Holden. --Alan Prendergast

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun