Colorado's interim prison director Roger Werholtz takes questions

Just hours into his first day, the new interim director of Colorado's prison system fielded tough questions about his role. He is filling a job left vacant after the murder of his predecessor by a parolee.

Roger Werholtz was appointed to the role by Governor Hickenlooper. According to his online biography, Werholtz retired from the Kansas Department of Corrections in December 2010.

The former executive director, Tom Clements, was killed at his home in Monument on March 19. Police have linked his murder to parolee Evan Ebel, who was killed in a Texas shootout.

Werholtz arrived in Colorado Sunday night, and walked into the Department of Corrections Headquarters with very little knowledge about what's next for the agency. During his first meeting with reporters, he wasn't afraid to admit his unfamiliarity with the problems in Colorado's system.

CALL7 Investigator Tak Landrock asked Werholtz about the system and if he will use his experience to make changes.

"Will we see any changes in the three months you are here - in the parole system, in the audit or anything like that? Or are you going to leave that for the new director?" Landrock asked.

"I can't give you a response saying, 'Yes, you're going to see changes' or not because I am still learning the system," he answered, before adding, "But I'm not here to just hold a place.'"

Werholtz said he will be talking with employees to find out what needs to be fixed.

"Each person who talks to me about their issues, that is important to them. What I've gotta do is hear from everybody and try to sort those out," he said.

Werholtz did later admit that the parole system is an area he thinks he may look at, but wouldn't go into details.

After Clements' murder and the investigation linking Ebel to the crime, gang activity in prisons came under the public spotlight. Ebel was a member of a white supremacist group called the 211 Crew.

Last week, the Department of Corrections revealed that ten percent of inmates in Colorado are active members of a gang. That percentage translates to 2,075 prisoners, and another 4,000 are identified as "wannabes," or inmates not affiliated with a gang the DOC recognizes.

When asked about the gang issue, Werholtz said, "I don’t know enough specifics to really comment with any kind of authority yet about the issues here in Colorado, that is what I am trying to learn, but it is something we all take seriously."

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