DA calling for parole changes after violent criminal paroled halfway through sentence

DENVER -- Weld County DA Michael Rourke is slamming a decision to parole a man convicted of attempted murder after serving just half his sentence.

“I have had it with these violent offenders being released back at such an early point in their sentence,” Rourke told Anne Trujillo on this weekend’s Politics Unplugged.

Rourke was talking about Jimmy Olivares, a man convicted in 2005 of attempted murder, first-degree assault and illegal discharge of a firearm charges. He also has past gang ties and had prior convictions on assault, domestic violence and drug charges. Olivares was sentenced to 24 years in prison, but was released on parole last month.

“I don’t know Mr. Olivares and clearly the crime he committed is terrible which is why he should have been sentenced to prison in the first instance and he was,” said Denise Maes of the American Civil Liberties Union.  

Maes says lengthy prison terms can make it difficult for a person to be reformed and once again become part of society at the end of their sentence.

“The evidence tells us that’s not a good approach,” she said. “That longer and longer they still in prison, the harder it is for them to reengage with their communities.”

Both Rourke and Maes would like to see changes made to Colorado parole laws. They just don’t see eye-to-eye on what those changes should be.

“I would like to see a significant conversation about how the parole board goes about making these determinations on violent offenders,” Rourke said. “I would like to see some additional legislation that says if you commit one of these crimes of violence, you serve ‘x’ amount of your sentence before you are ever considered for parole by this parole board.”

“I would say it’s a case by case and I would hate to see legislation that puts everybody and presumes that everybody is on the same playing field at every point in their life,” Maes said. “Once you commit your crime and you’ve served some time you’ve been punished and there ought to be process on a case by case basis and that’s what happened here.”

Politics Unplugged airs Sundays at 4:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Denver7.

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