$1 million annually approved for Colorado Department of Corrections parole fugitive unit

DENVER - Colorado lawmakers approved an annual allocation of $1 million for prison officials to create a unit for tracking parolees who flee.

The move is the latest response state officials have undertaken to address the slaying of Colorado Department of Corrections Tom Clements in March. Evan Ebel, a parolee who was released early and cut his monitoring bracelet, is the lone suspect in the case.

Ebel's assigned parole officer, who had special training for high-risk inmates, didn't check on the missing parolee for five days. During that time, the officer's time card shows he worked several partial days and took a weekend off.

The Colorado Joint Budget Committee approved the request for funding Thursday on a 4-1 vote. Senator Kent Lambert cast the lone dissenting vote.

"I just have a lot of questions about their management process," Lambert said. "They didn't have someone here to answer those questions which surprised me."

Some of the lawmakers expressed concern about the request before approving it, saying they had unanswered questions about how the initiative would work. They lawmakers say they want to monitor the department's progress on the matter.

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