New parole officer fills enforcement hole

Full-time community corrections officer keeps tabs on 75 felons in two counties

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The office of a the area's newest parole officer is largely unadorned for now, except for some pictures of his time in the service, some Harley- Davidson memorabilia and the essential office equipment.

Despite the low-profile office tucked away on the back side of the Country Mall, the phone rings incessantly.

"As you can see, I'm very popular," said Shane Fuchs, the community corrections officer who supervises current and former Colorado Department of Corrections inmates in Routt and Moffat counties.

Fuchs keeps tabs on about 75 felons in Moffat and Routt counties.

The 30 residents at Correctional Alternative Placement Services are still considered inmates, Fuchs said. About 45 parolees live on their own. Five inmates live independently under an "intensive supervision program" in which they are monitored at their homes with a tracking device worn on the ankle.

Fuchs has been working here full time since October.

In July, he began commuting here from Grand Junction after the position was vacated by the previous community corrections officer.

For one or two days a week, Fuchs would stay in Craig and try to catch up. But with a large caseload and little time, Fuchs admits it was difficult.

The paperwork buried him, Fuchs said; especially the technical violations.

Technical violations are actions that are against the law for parolees or inmates, but not for most citizens. In some cases driving, getting married, drinking alcohol and leaving town are not allowed.

The Colorado Department of Corrections gives some discretion to its parole officers regarding the consequences for a technical violation.

He can issue verbal warnings, written warnings, impose community service, or file for a revocation of parole.

The event must be documented, and that amounts to a lot of paperwork, Fuchs said.

Fuchs calls himself "middle-of-the-road" when it comes to his role as disciplinarian.

"I give them a couple of chances, unless (the violation) is criminal," Fuchs said. "If it's drug related, I try to get some type of drug treatment."

He said he is guided by the interest of public safety, which he calls his "number one mission."

"That's our goal," Fuchs said. "And I think we're meeting that objective."

When he's not doing paperwork, Fuchs said he spends his time visiting inmates and parolees and "putting out fires."

He visits parolees at home about once a month. He drops by their places of employment occasionally. He calls them on the telephone.

On Monday, Fuchs attended a parole hearing for a man Fuchs caught using drugs. The man's parole was revoked pending 60 days in the Moffat County Jail.

Fuchs presented the complaint to Sharon Bartlett, a Colorado Parole Board member. Bartlett lives in Grand Junction, and she travels across the state to preside over parole hearings.

On Monday, Fuchs explained to Bartlett that the inmate was complying with other conditions of his parole, but has problems with addiction.

Fuchs recommended an inpatient treatment program for the inmate. But first, Fuchs asked for a 60-day jail sentence so the inmate could get his thoughts together and get clean before drug treatment.

Bartlett agreed with Fuchs's recommendation.

Fuchs walked the man back to jail.

"He's a good officer; he really is." Bartlett said. "He's fair."

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 209 or by e-mail at jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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